June 7, 2011

Preserving Archaeology in Bolivia: Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) Considers Renewing Bilateral Agreement to Protect Bolivian Archaeological Heritage

Thank you for supporting the preservation of Bolivian archaeological heritage by writing a letter to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee urging them to renew the bilateral agreement with Bolivia!

On June 27-28, 2011, the State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) met to consider renewing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Republic of Bolivia by which the United States will help preserve the country’s rich archaeological heritage. Your letters are an important statement of support for the MoU.

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 Bolivia 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.