On January 25, 2022, the US Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) met to consider proposed renewals and amendments of MOUs with Cyprus and Mali and a proposed renewal of a MOU with Guatemala. CPAC carried over a discussion of the Cypriot renewal from its October 5, 2021, meeting. The following members were present: (1) Stefan Passantino (Chairman- Public); (2) Steven Bledsoe (Public); (3) Karol Wight (Museums); (4) J.D. Demming (Public); (5) Ricardo St. Hilaire (Archaeology); (6) Joan Connelly (Archaeology); Rachael Fulton Brown (Archaeology?); (7) Anthony Wisniewski (Collector-Sale of International Cultural Property); (8) Mark Hendricks (Sale of International Cultural Property); and (9) David Tamasi (International Sale of Cultural Property). Allison Davis, CPAC’s State Department Executive Director, and Michele Prior, also of ECA, were also present.
Passantino welcomed the speakers. He apologized for starting
late due to some technical difficulties. He indicated that the Committee
had read all the comments, and speakers could only be allotted 4 minutes time
given the busy schedule. The speakers
would be divided up according to subject matter. The Chair also reserved a short amount of
time for questions.
The following speakers addressed the Committee on Mali: (1) Kathleen
Bickford Berzock (Mary and Leigh
Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University); (2) Kate FitzGibbon (Committee
for Cultural Policy and Global Heritage Alliance); (3) Susan McIntosh (Rice
University). Barbara Arroyo (Society for American Archaeology) addressed
the Committee about Guatemala. The following speakers spoke specifically about
import restrictions on coins: (1) Peter Tompa (Peter Tompa Law
representing the International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN));
(2) Robert Leonard (private collector); and (3) Randy Myers (Ancient
Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG)). The
following speakers focused their comments on Cyprus: (1) Andrew McCarthy (College
of Southern Nevada); (2) Josh Knerly (Hahn Loeser representing
Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD); (3) Helena Aroz (HA) (Antiquities
Coalition); (4) Lindy Crewe(Cyprus American Archaeological Research
Institute (CAARI); and (5) Dr. Despina Pilides (former
Curator of Antiquities, Cypriot Department of Antiquities). The following speakers covered all the MOUs
at issue: (1) Dr. Brian Daniels (Archaeological Institute of America); and
(2) Dr. Marlene Losier (ML) (Losier Gonz law firm).
Kathleen Bickford Berzock (KBB) indicates that the Caravans of Gold exhibit demonstrates
that Mali has engaged in cultural exchange.
KBB believes that Mali has done all it could to preserve its cultural
patrimony despite political instability and the pandemic.
Kate FitzGibbon (KFG) does
not believe Mali has met any of the four determinations before import restrictions
may be renewed. There are minimal
exports coming from Mali with only $691 of cultural goods being exported in
2019. There is a concern with insufficient
notice of any amendment. The Federal
Register indicates that the request only goes up to the mid-18th c. while the
Cultural Heritage Center’s website suggests that restrictions up to the 1920’s
will be considered. Most of the Malian
material on the market was exported during the French Colonial period. Mali has failed to fund its cultural heritage
sector. MOUs should not be renewed over
and over again if they are not making a difference. Most of the effort to protect Malian cultural
heritage seems to have been funded from abroad.
The US Government made a significant grant back in 2020. We need to insist on better benchmarks before
the MOU is renewed. The real problem in
Mali is political turmoil, most recently with a military coup. There should also be safe haven given to
Malian artifacts in the event of further armed conflict that could destroy cultural
The Committee for Cultural
Policy’s and Global Heritage Alliance’s papers can be found here:
Susan McIntosh (SM) did
not have time to submit written comments. The MOU with Mali is necessary to reduce
looting. The Malian government has done
what it can to protect its own cultural heritage by creating nine cultural
missions. These formerly had been funded
by taxes on tourists who are now scarce due to Covid and political
instability. Despite the lack of taxes,
the Malian government has still funded this effort to the best of its ability. Looting remains a problem at least with lower
Arroyo (BA) supports renewal of the MOU with Guatemala. The MOU is important to stem criminal activities. Most of the problems occur where the
government does not have adequate resources to protect cultural heritage. There is an ongoing effort to work with the
Catholic Church to document religious artifacts. There is still a looting problem. Recently, the US recovered 257 Guatemalan
archaeological items. US archaeologists
have not only funded digs, but the training of Guatemalan archaeologists.
The Society for American
Archaeology’s papers can be found here:
Peter Tompa (PT) noted that there were no import restrictions on coins for 25 years after the CPIA was
passed into law. This is not surprising
as coins are items of commerce, and while they may be of “archaeological
interest,” they are not generally of “cultural significance.” In 2007, this changed under questionable
circumstances that raise fairness questions.
Coin collectors are realists and recognize such import restrictions are
here to stay, but a reset is warranted in how they are implemented. First, to be consistent with the Cultural
Property Implementation Act (“CPIA”), restrictions should only be placed on
coins that are exclusively or actually found in Cyprus. The State Department’s current standard,
based on where a coin “primarily circulated” simply ignores the statutory
requirements. Second, even if this
standard is utilized, all Cypriot mint gold coins and Cypriot mint coins of
Alexander the Great and his immediate successors struck on an Attic weight
standard should be delisted based on hoard evidence. Third, the State Department should only
utilize neutral experts to prepare designated lists and meet and confer with
the trade and collectors about such lists.
Under no circumstances should collectors have to guess what coins are
restricted and which are not restricted.
Finally, there should be no restrictions on Spanish Colonial and
Republican era coins from Guatemalan mints.
These coins either do not meet the 250-year-old threshold for
archaeological objects or are not normally discovered on the ground. They are not ethnological objects because
they are not the products of tribal cultures but what were for the time sophisticated
industrial processes. Moreover, one
cannot assume they are found in Guatemala because they travelled widely in
international commerce and even served as legal tender in the United States
PT’s oral comments can be found
IAPN’s written comments can be
Robert Leonard (RL) states
that import restrictions should not be extended to Crusader era coins. Examination of the actual object is essential
for proper scholarship, and import blockages will harm the study of medieval
Cypriot numismatics in the United States.
Such coins were well known to Italian merchants. The hoard evidence presented proves that they
circulated outside of Cyprus in quantity.
Legitimate Cypriot dealers only sell Cypriot coins imported from
abroad. Import restrictions only hurt
American collectors buying such coins from third countries. It makes absolutely no sense to restrict
Guatemalan coins because that would be restricting what were legal tender in
the United States.
RL’s written testimony can be
Randy Myers (RM) wants to
focus his comments on behalf of the ACCG on one procedural and one substantive
issue. Procedurally, the Federal
Register notice fails to indicate specifically
that there will be an effort to amend the Cypriot MOU to include more
coins. This does not provide sufficient
notice to allow collectors to comment. Substantively, there is no indication
that less drastic measures have been considered before import restrictions have
been imposed on coins. One such less
drastic measure would be for Cyprus to adopt a program akin to the Treasure Act
and Portable Antiquities Scheme. This
program requires coins that are found to be reported so they can be recorded
and gives the State a right of first refusal over coins for a payment of fair
market value. CPAC should also recommend
that the State Department honor export permits from fellow EU members for
imports of Cypriot coins.
The ACCG’s written testimony can
be found here:
Andrew McCarthy (AM) states
that MOUs are a crucial tool. Coins
should be included because how is he supposed to know if a coin on the market
was stolen from his archaeological site unless the burden of proof is placed on
collectors to provide a provenance for it.
McCarthy hopes the MOU will be expanded to include both very early
material as well as a rolling date for material over 100 years old. Early settlements have been looted for
paleolithic tools. Archaeological
remains of a famous bandit dating from the early 20th century should
also be protected.
Josh Knerly (JK) focuses on the fourth determination that
asks if the application of import restrictions is consistent with the general
interest of the international community in the interchange of cultural property
among nations for scientific, cultural and educational purposes. He notes that this provision contemplates
collaboration far broader than that related to the exchange of archaeological
and ethnological material because “cultural property” is far more broadly
defined in the CPIA and UNESCO Convention.
He also notes that the boilerplate Article II placed in the current
Cypriot MOU fails to set forth specific criteria to facilitate such cultural
exchange. The same issues arise with
regard to the MOUs with Guatemala and Mali.
There is a separate “action plan” for Mali which addresses these issues
to some extent, but JK questions whether the State Department will allow CPAC
to make recommendations to modify it in an effort to stimulate cultural
The AAMD’s written testimony on
Cyprus can be found here:
Helena Aroz (HA) viewed the 2016 CPAC proceedings on
Cyprus. MOUs are important in combatting
looting and benefit collectors and dealers by keeping looted material off the
market. They complement widely held
ethical guidelines. HA also had the
opportunity to excavate in Cyprus where she saw firsthand that looting leads to
the loss of important information. She
also had excellent interchanges with the Cypriot people and remembers fondly
being invited to attend local weddings. MOUs
are also important in fostering cultural exchange.
The Antiquity Coalition’s paper
on Cyprus can be found here:
Lindy Crewe (LC) speaks about CAARI’s efforts as the only on-site
American archaeological organization in Cyprus.
CAARI hosts both US scholars and US tourists. It has hosted Fulbright
scholars and interacts with the 17 US archaeological digs on Cyprus. There have been major advances in the study
of Byzantine and Colonial era archaeology which also deserves protection. Looting has also impacted the ability to
study DNA when cemeteries are disturbed.
Pilides (DP) strongly supports the MOU. She previously was the curator for the
Department of Antiquities in charge of museums.
She also worked on archaeological digs and has been a Chair of ICOM, the
International Council of Museums. A
study indicates that one-half of the Byzantine material that was left in the
Turkish occupied zone remains missing. There
needs to be strong protections for Byzantine and Ottoman era artifacts. There has been an effort to digitize
Byzantine era artifacts from the Turkish zone that are in the museum at Nicosia. Coins are important for Cypriot history and
should be protected to help protect the context in which they are found.
written testimony can be found here:
Brian Daniels (BD) mentions that the AIA has over 200,000 members [the vast
majority of this number are individuals who subscribe to Archaeology Magazine]. The AIA supports renewals of MOUS with Mali, Cyprus
and Guatemala. Import restrictions are
an important tool in discouraging looting of archaeological sites. The MOU with
Cyprus should be made consistent with that of Greece and Turkey regarding what
coins should be covered. There have been
long term loans of objects provided by Cyprus, Guatemala and Mali. Mali in particular has done what it can
despite political turmoil.
AIA’s papers can be found here:
Marlene Losier (ML) supports renewals and
expansion of import restrictions to new categories as part of a “progressive view”
of the development of the law. By entering
into such MOUs we encourage other countries to protect our own heritage both
abroad and even in space like the Apollo 11 landing site.
Passantino then allowed CPAC members a brief time for questions.
Wisniewski observed that most of the oral and written testimony reflected
the opinions of the speakers. He also
noted that CPAC cannot apply a “progressive view of the law” because it is
obliged to apply Congressional statutes as written. He notes that coin collectors have produced
information from third party academic sources that by their nature have a much
higher degree of reliability than the arguments of the participants. He asks PT if he agrees with the statement
that those sources show that over 95% of the Cypriot mint coins of Alexander
the Great are found outside of Cyprus. PT
agrees. He then indicates this carries a
burden on this point which has not been contested by proponents of the
Connelly asks DP about the digitization of collections. DP says some 96,000 objects have been
digitized. There has been a special
effort to digitize items in the Nicosia Museum that come from the occupied
North of Cyprus. She then reiterates the
importance of coins.
Wight asks JK about Cyprus’ lack of an immunity from seizure law. JK indicates such a law patterned on those of
other EU countries would help facilitate loans.
Passantino then thanked the speakers and CPAC went into a recess for lunch
additional testimony on the Cypriot renewal can be found in this summary of
CPAC’s October 5, 2021, meeting: http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/2021/10/summary-of-october-5-2021-cultural.html