July 12, 2022
Your experience matters! Join our letter writing campaign to save a place you love.
If you appreciate the cultural heritage of Belize and/or Libya, there are a few ways you can help preserve the past this month.
Preserving Belize’s Archaeological Wonders: Visit (or Revisit) Belize Over Your Lunch Break!
Thursday, July 14, at 2pm Eastern/11am Pacific
Join AIA Director of Programs Dr. Ben Thomas for a virtual trip across Belize and its archaeological wonders. Discover (or rediscover for those of you who have travelled to Belize) the incredible cultural heritage of the country and be reminded why it is critically important for us to speak up for preserving the places that we love. Dr. Thomas will share the archaeological highlights of Belize and reflect on his many years of fieldwork in the country.
The country of Belize recently requested that the U.S. renew the bilateral agreement that protects Belizean cultural resources from being illegally imported into the United States. After the trip across the country, the AIA will outline the simple steps you can take this month to speak out in support of preserving Belize’s cultural heritage.
Write a Letter of Support
If you’ve previously traveled to Belize or Libya or enjoyed museum exhibits or presentations from scholars from those countries, your experiences can help the U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) with its upcoming deliberations that will help safeguard archaeological sites and objects there.
Note: July 19 deadline to submit letters of support is approaching fast!
Scroll down to see our letter templates and watch our YouTube video where AIA VP for Cultural Heritage Brian Daniels discusses easy and effective strategies for crafting powerful letters of support for the U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee.
What is the U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee and how can I help?
The U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) makes recommendations to the President about bilateral cultural property agreements between the United States and nations seeking to protect their archaeological objects from looting and illegal export. Before recommending that bilateral agreements be signed or renewed, CPAC reviews written testimony from constituents to determine whether countries are doing their part to protect their archaeological heritage and participate in cultural exchange. This is where you come in! Your experiences can provide the committee with valuable input as they consider import restrictions and arrangements that will protect vulnerable and irreplaceable archaeological sites.
Further information from the State Department about how to submit letters via regulations.gov for the upcoming CPAC meeting is available.
To submit comments: For general comments, use regulations.gov, enter the docket [DOS-2022-0015], and follow the prompts.
STEP 1: Introduce yourself and talk about your connection to Belize / Libya
Dear Members of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee,
SAMPLE 1: I am a member of the Boulder Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, as well as an avid international traveler and museum goer, and archaeological enthusiast. Although I am now an investment banker, I developed a love of the past at an early age. I have traveled to Belize / Libya on three occasions, both as an individual traveler and as a member of an organized tour group. These vital cultural experiences are unforgettable….
SAMPLE 2: I am writing as President of the Dallas/Fort Worth Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, with its 100 members of academics, archaeological professionals, teachers, and the interested public. As enthusiasts of the ancient past, we enjoy learning about new archaeological research through our society lectures and are avid travelers….
SAMPLE 3: I am an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, who has participated in fieldwork and study tours in Belize / Libya; I am also an avid student of ancient art. These experiences have highlighted for me the critical importance of archaeological context in our understanding of the ancient world from objects large and small….
SAMPLE 4: I am a faculty member at Swarthmore College who has been conducting archaeological fieldwork in Belize / Libya for over two decades. Over these years, I have trained more than one hundred American students in the techniques of archaeological excavation and have introduced students to the cultural heritage of the country through organized tours to well preserved museums and sites….
STEP 2: Share your experiences to illustrate what Belize / Libya are doing to protect their archaeological heritage and to encourage cultural exchange
GIVE THEM SOME SPECIFICS—Examples:
SAMPLE 1: [Include specific stories or memorable cultural experiences about your travels: Were sites well protected (did you see guards or notices about the collection of archaeological material)? Were the sites well presented to the public (what did you learn from the signage or local guides?). Also mention cultural value of lectures you’ve heard by Belizean / Libyan archaeologists or scholars with research projects in Belize / Libya.]
SAMPLE 2: [Include specific examples of recent AIA lectures that have addressed recent fieldwork in Belize / Libya; personal stories of the cultural experiences your members have gained by visiting well protected sites and museums in that State, etc.]. These can be compiled from society members into a single letter and attached to individual names (e.g. Local member Sarah Peterson recalls, “…”; Jorge Gomez writes, “…”).
SAMPLE 3: [Include specific examples or stories about fieldwork experiences; a memorable site or museum visit; public lectures you have heard about Belizean / Libyan archaeology by Belizean / Libyan archaeologists or academics with research projects there; or a moment that led to your awareness of the importance of archaeological context]
SAMPLE 4: [Include specific examples or stories about successful collaborations or looting activity connected to your fieldwork; a memorable site or museum visit; a student comment (‘the experience was life-changing’).]
STEP 3: Express your support for the bilateral agreement
SAMPLE 1: I strongly support the efforts of the Belizean / Libyan government to impose import restrictions on archaeological materials coming to the U.S. This is one pragmatic step that we can take to support Belize / Libya’s efforts to sustain and protect its cultural heritage.
SAMPLE 2: We strongly support the efforts of the Belizean / Libyan government to impose import restrictions on archaeological materials coming to the U.S. Through such restrictions, we can help to prevent the destruction of irreplaceable knowledge about the ancient world.
SAMPLE 3: I strongly support the efforts of the Belizean / Libyan government to impose import restrictions on archaeological materials coming to the U.S. Through such restrictions, we can help Belize / Libya to protect its cultural heritage and prevent the destruction of irreplaceable knowledge about the past.
That’s it! To submit your letter go to regulations.gov, enter the docket [DOS-2022-0015], and follow the prompts.