January 24, 2011
Last week, the Federal Register published that the Import Restrictions Imposed on Archaeological Material Originating in Italy and Representing the Pre-Classical, Classical, and Imperial Roman Periods, as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the United States and Italy would be extended for another five years. This extension came with an amendment that coins of Italian types were added to the “Medal” category within the list of restrictions. Coins of Italian types were listed as: lumps of bronze, bronze bars, cast coins, struck coins, struck colonial coinage, and coins of the Greek cities (of the southern Italian peninsula and Sicily).
Many AIA members participated in this renewal process as hundreds of letters were sent to the State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee and over a dozen AIA members traveled to Washington D.C. for the interim meeting in November 2009 and the renewal meeting in May 2010. The great outpouring of support for the renewal of the MoU and the testimonies of the dangers still faced by Italian cultural patrimony as well as many successful examples of the collaboration of Italy with Americans for the promotion of cultural exchange accessible to the public was surely influential in helping the United State Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Ann Stock, determine “that the cultural heritage of Italy continues to be in jeopardy from pillage of archaeological material representing the pre-Classical, Classical, and Imperial Roman periods.” This ultimately led to her taking the appropriate steps to renew the import restrictions for another five years, allowing Customs and Border Protection agents to continue to help safeguard Italian artifacts through 2016.