Archaeological Value of Coins Questioned
January 28, 2007

Urgent Request
Archaeological Value of Coins Questioned
The Cultural Property Advisory Committee at the U.S. Department of State is asking for additional public comment on the inclusion of ancient coins in the Cypriot request for import restrictions.

The United States and Cyprus have had a bilateral agreement for almost five years that restricts the import into the United States of undocumented archaeological materials from Cyprus. The Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) in the U.S. Department of State considered extension of this agreement on Thursday and Friday, January 25 and 26 (see the AIA’s letter in support of this request below).

The question of whether coins should be included in the new agreement arose, and the Committee is now seeking public comment on whether coins should be included.

Cyprus has asked that coins be included because it considers coins to have considerable archaeological significance when found in context, and, like other such materials, they are vulnerable to pillage and illegal export. The proposal is to include in the new bilateral agreement coins found in Cyprus that are more than 250 years old.

CPAC has asked for public comment on the inclusion of coins in the agreement, and is now accepting letters supporting (or opposing) the inclusion of coins. The deadline of Monday, February 5, for them to receive letters is very short. We urge AIA members who care about this Issue to email or fax letters supporting the inclusion of coins.

Your letters should address some or all of the following points:

  1. Are coins part of a country's cultural patrimony and does the looting of coins jeopardize a country's cultural patrimony?
  2. Is scientific excavation of coins important to archaeology and the reconstruction of social, political, and economic history?
  3. Does the search for coins to sell on the market destroy sites and archaeological context (and therefore jeopardize the country's cultural patrimony) through metal detecting and other looting activities?
  4. Specific points based on personal experience and specific examples involving Cypriot coins would be particularly helpful.

The deadline for submitting a letter is Monday, February 5. Letters must be either faxed or sent by email to the Committee at the address below:

Cultural Property Advisory Committee
Cultural Heritage Center
U.S. Department of State
301 4th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20547
Fax: (202) 453-8803

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