SWANSEA, Wales, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- David Gill, archaeologist, reflects on the request by Greece for the US to place restrictions on the import of archaeological material.
Greece considers there to be a serious problem with the looting of archaeological sites. In May 2010 a pair of sixth century BC statues of naked youths ("kouroi") were recovered in a police raid from near Corinth. There is a possibility that they were removed from the nearby site of Tenea. The seizure was made after a police surveillance operation.
In recent years public museums and private collectors in the US have returned significant pieces to Greece. They include a gold funerary wreath, a late classical wine-mixing bowl (krater), and an archaic marble statue of a woman (kore).
Greece has now made a formal request to the US to consider "import restrictions on archaeological and ethnological material from Greece dating to the Neolithic Period through the mid-eighteenth century". Comments on the proposed restrictions have been invited by the US Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) prior to its October meeting.
Jack L. Davis, Director, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, comments:
"Even Greece, an EU country with an effective police force and well-organized archaeological service, lacks the means to control the looting of its archaeological sites by law enforcement alone. Every square kilometer in Greece is full of ancient remains that present targets for looters — hundreds of unexcavated sites each year fall victim to pot hunting and coin hunting, in the course of which irreparable harm is done to Greece's heritage and aspects of its history are made irretrievable."
Sebastian Heath, Vice President for Professional Responsibilities, Archaeological Institute of America, says:
"It is in the interests of all Americans to make sure that antiquities coming into the US are not being illegally imported. The proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will help ensure that importers provide reasonable levels of documentation to show how they obtained objects of the types that we know are being looted in Greece. This helps to preserve irreplaceable knowledge about the origins of our shared democratic principles and our shared cultural heritage. I am confident that the proposed MoU will benefit the Greek nation, the American public, as well as citizens of all countries who value knowledge about the past."
SOURCE Looting Matters