SWANSEA, Wales, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- David Gill, archaeologist, reflects on the legal action taken by the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG).
Earlier in February 2010 a Washington law-firm acting for the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild filed an action against (among others) the US Department of State and the US Customs and Border Protection. The action had been triggered by the deliberate import of coins minted on ancient Cyprus and in China, and allegedly purchased in London. Instead of presenting the papers demonstrating the collecting history (or "provenance") of the coins, a decision had been taken to challenge the separate Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with Cyprus and China. The coins were seized.
The government of Cyprus had urged the US State Department to sign a MOU in order to restrict the movement of archaeological material from the island to the US. Following an amendment to the MOU, Dr. Pavlos Flourentzos, the director of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, commented on the signing of the MOU in a 2007 interview with the US organization SAFE (Saving Antiquities for Everyone): "This act shows sensitivity to the importance of preserving world cultural heritage, a principle highly esteemed by the international scientific community."
The inclusion of coins in the amended list of antiquities mentioned in the MOU with Cyprus appears to have upset some in the coin-dealing and coin-collecting community. A Brussels-based numismatic trade organization was one of three bodies, along with the ACCG, to initiate a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) court-action against the US State Department. One of the aims of the European numismatic body is "the development of a healthy and prosperous numismatic trade". In November 2009 Judge Richard J. Leon delivered his opinion in support of the US State Department: "the State Department has established that it conducted a reasonable search, that it properly withheld the disputed information under FOIA exemptions".
After failing to achieve its aims in the FOIA case, the ACCG has now apparently decided to challenge the MOU with Cyprus in a provocative legal case. The ACCG's officers and its legal team have failed to recognise that this sends out a clear signal to the rest of the world: some coin-collectors would rather put the acquisition of coins before the preservation and protection of the finite archaeological record.
SOURCE Looting Matters