Friday, January 7, 2022

State Department reopens record for renewal and possible amendment of the current MOU with Cyprus; Renewals of MOUs with Guatemala and Mali also to be discussed.

The State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and its Cultural Heritage Center have provided public notice of a Cultural Property Advisory Committee meeting on January 25 and 26 to discuss a renewal of a MOU with Guatemala, and renewals and possible amendments of current MOUs with Cyprus and Mali.  The public notice can be found here. A direct link to comment can be found here.  It is important that any comments be received before the January 18, 2021 11:59 PM deadline. That is also the deadline to inform the Cultural Heritage Center if you want to speak at the hearing. 

The renewal and possible amendment of the MOU with Cyprus was to be discussed last October, but consideration of the request was bumped to CPAC's January meeting given a last minute addition of proposed "emergency import restrictions" on behalf of Afghanistan being placed on the docket.  CPO has covered the CPAC public meeting that discussed that absurd request that will only benefit the Taliban regime here.  At this juncture, we have not heard one way or the other whether the State Department will actually go through with authorizing such import restrictions that would claw back Afghan heritage imported from legitimate markets in Europe just so it can be handed over to the iconoclasts who blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas and smashed many of the statues in the Kabul Museum. 

In any case, that report also includes links to papers submitted by the ACCG, IAPN, and Alan Berman about the proposal to extend and amend the Cypriot MOU.  Collectors of Byzantine, Crusader and Turkish coins should beware; it is likely that this renewal will be used as a vehicle to amend current restrictions on Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman Provincial coins minted in Cyprus to include such later issues.   

Please consider commenting if you failed to do so back in September because silence will be spun as acquiescence.  A guide on the request and what to say can be found here.  Those of you who also collect Latin American coinage should also consider commenting on the Guatemalan request.  The issues there are similar to those raised with regard to MOUs with other Latin American countries.  As described in  IAPN's paper about last year's Peruvian request, Spanish Colonial and Republican era coinage of Latin American countries simply fail to meet the threshold criteria for archaeological or ethnological objects.  Spanish Colonial and Republican era coins cannot be considered archaeological objects because they are not normally discovered in the ground.  Nor can they be properly viewed as ethnological objects.  They are the products of what at the time were sophisticated industrial practices, not crafts of tribal societies.  Moreover, such coins circulated widely, including within the United States, where they were legal tender until 1857. 

On Mali, there are no numismatic issues as far as CPO can tell. Evidently, the people of Mali preferred to use salt as currency rather than coins.  The first Malian coins were not local, but French Colonial issues from the late 19th c, making Mali one of the few countries coin collectors at least have little to worry about. Or, maybe we all should be worried if the State Department embargoes Malian salt as cultural heritage and US Customs bans all salt imports because even trained customs inspectors cannot tell Malian from other types of salt.  Don't laugh!  Recently, "rope" became targets of such embargoes, although to be fair any rope shortage appears to be the result of pandemic related supply chain issues and not cultural property embargoes. 

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