This is what I said today, more or less, at CPAC's public session regarding a proposed renewal of the current MOU with Egypt and a proposed new MOU with Albania:
I would like to take a moment to
acknowledge the passing of James Fitzpatrick, Esq., one of the CPIA’s drafters
who appeared before CPAC multiple times to emphasize the need for the Committee
to follow Congressional intent. In that
spirit, I would ask you to focus on two important provisions concerning the
scope and enforcement of import restrictions.
Both touch on less drastic remedies to be considered and facilitating the
legal exchange of cultural property.
The current designated list for Egypt
ignores the statutory requirement that restricted objects must both be “first
discovered within” and subject to Egyptian “export control.” Only coins that
“exclusively” circulated within Egypt can meet both requirements, but larger
denomination gold and silver Alexander the Great, Ptolemaic and Roman Egyptian coin
types that circulated in quantity outside the modern borders of Egypt nonetheless
ended up on the 2016 designated list. Proponents
may have raised Egypt’s so-called “closed monetary system” under the Ptolemies
and Roman Provincial authorities to justify these restrictions, but that system
was meant to keep foreign coins "out" and not Egyptian coins “in.” Moreover, the borders of ancient Egypt
stretched well beyond its modern borders and as stated, larger denomination Greek
and Roman Egyptian Provincial coins with Greek legends are found in quantity
well outside of Egypt.
No new restrictions should be recommended for Roman
Imperial, Byzantine, and Islamic issues.
Standardized Roman Imperial coins
with Latin legends from the Alexandria Mint have been found in substantial
numbers throughout the Empire and beyond.
In the later Byzantine and Islamic period, as in the later Roman period,
standardized coinage made in Alexandria and elsewhere circulated widely. Randy Myers speaking for the ACCG will focus
on Albanian coinage, but I will also note there should be no restrictions on
silver coins from there either because far more hoards of Illyrian coinage have
been found in Romania than Albania.
There also is the issue of enforcement. As the Antiquities Coalition also observes in
its papers, import restrictions only apply to artifacts illicitly exported from
Egypt after the December 6, 2016 effective date of the implementing regulations. 19 U.S.C § 2606. Unfortunately, U.S. Customs applies restrictions
far more broadly as embargoes on any coins imported into the U.S. Instead, coins should only be detained and
seized where there is probable cause they were illicitly exported from Egypt after
December 6, 2016. In other words, coins
should no longer be seized and forfeited, and the collector deprived of their
private property, solely because a coin is of a type on the designated
list. This should particularly hold for purchases
from legitimate markets in the EU, UK, and Switzerland where Egyptian coins
have been collected for generations. Thank you for listening to our concerns. I am happy to answer any questions regarding our