GAINESVILLE, Mo., Dec. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The recent collapse of buildings at the ancient site of Pompeii has critics questioning the wisdom of repatriating antiquities to countries that are unable or unwilling to preserve their heritage, yet maintain strict patrimony laws hindering private ownership. Italy has seen several heritage catastrophes of late. The scope of the problem was summarized by Pier Giovanni Guzzo, former head of the archaeological site of Pompeii, who said "Italian cultural heritage is at risk of falling apart." The problem is money, and competition for what there is of it, in budgetary crises. Ironically, ancient coins are also at risk due to poor preservation—there's not enough money today for institutions to preserve money from the past.
Italy is not the only country having to face austerity measures. Archaeology is "under threat" in the U.K. and one recent headline reads "Greece's crumbling ruins mark a tragedy of neglect". In Egypt, a country that vows to force repatriation of ancient artifacts, the ancient temple of Ptah, near Memphis, sits submerged in sewage and serves as a home for stray dogs. Although stories like this are coming out of many countries, calls for repatriation and for U.S. import restrictions on cultural objects from abroad are on the rise.
Where governments have struggled, amateur archaeologists, independent scholars and private collectors are often in a position to help. These avocations are endowed with years of experience and accumulated knowledge. Moreover, their members are typically willing to freely devote their time and wisdom to furthering international cultural interests. The idea of collaboration between professionals and amateurs is not new. The important Patching Hoard of late Roman gold and silver coins found in southern Britain was first published in 1997, on the Internet, by a collector in the U.S. with data provided by the Worthing Museum. Many of the academic studies in numismatics over the past century have credited amateur coin collectors for their substantial contributions, while an even greater number of scholarly studies have been written by amateurs themselves. With the advent of the internet and discussion lists like Moneta-L, a vast resource is instantly available to aid in identifying coins and providing other valuable numismatic information. The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild strongly advocates cooperation with academia in the preservation of ancient coins.
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SOURCE Ancient Coin Collectors Guild