AIA News

November 17, 2011

Preserving Archaeology in Belize and Bulgaria

Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) to Consider New Bilateral Agreements to Protect Belizean and Bulgarian Archaeological Heritage

Thank you to those who demonstrated support for the preservation of Belizean and Bulgarian archaeological heritage by writing a letter to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee urging them to create bilateral agreements with Belize and Bulgaria!  The deadline was November 2.

On November 15-17, 2011, the State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) met to consider creating Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with the Republics of Belize and Bulgaria by which the United States would help preserve these countries’ rich archaeological heritages. Letters are an important statement of support for the MoUs.

The looting of sites damages archaeological contexts, hampering archaeologists’ study of ancient remains and distorting our reconstruction of the past. Because our understanding of the past is dependent on our ability to recover, study, and interpret ancient sites and artifacts in their original context, the preservation of sites is critical to the creation of archaeological knowledge, as well as to the maintenance of cultural heritage. A commitment to stopping the import of looted cultural material will help to prevent the destruction of the archaeological record.

What is a MoU?

In 1983, Congress passed the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) that enables the United States to enter into agreements, known as Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), with individual countries to further protection of cultural resources. This legislation established the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC), which considers requests for the initiation or renewal of a MoU. An important component of each MoU is a commitment by the United States to restrict the import of undocumented archaeological objects. The goal is to reduce looting, which in Belize and Bulgaria continues to destroy irreplaceable knowledge about the ancient world. To learn more about the history of the CPIA and the process by which a MoU is agreed to and renewed, you can download this overview.

More Resources

The AIA has prepared two documents with more information about CPAC and MoUs:

State Department Websites

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The AIA is North America's largest and oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to archaeology. The Institute advances awareness, education, fieldwork, preservation, publication, and research of archaeological sites and cultural heritage throughout the world. Your contribution makes a difference.