"In a move that some coin collectors fear could eventually make it difficult to pursue their passion, the United States government has imposed import restrictions on ancient coins from Cyprus. It is the first time the United States has limited trade in a broad category of coins as part of an effort to guard the cultural heritage of another country."The exchanges are becoming more heated.
Wayne Sayles ("Blinded by the Light", September 18, 2007) has launched an attack on Nathan Elkins in response to his blog ("Can Cultural Property Legislation Kill an Academic Discipline?", Safecorner, September 13, 2007):
"Mr. Elkins states that the unchecked trade in undocumented ancient coins is a severe problem. Is it the trade that is the problem, or is it instead misguided laws and the lack of law enforcement on archaeological sites? Should we put barriers on our freeways because people speed? Mr. Elkins would have more controls, more regulation, more restriction. That is a typical bureaucratic approach to solving a perceived, and in this case imperfectly understood, problem. I will continue to disagree."The different groups need to listen to each other and to members from their own communities ("Coins and Cyprus: Listening to the Coin Forum", August 24, 2007).
But I am surprised to read a message posted on ancients.info ("The Online Resource for Ancient Coins and Antiquities") on the eve (July 15, 2007) of the restrictions:
"... on sites like eBay my strategy would be to keep as low a profile as possible and avoid buzzwords like "Cyprus" and "coin" (remember all the ads containing words like "Mesopotamian" and "Babylonian" which were taken down after the laws were enacted against selling looted Iraqi antiquities)."With views like this coming from coin collectors there is little wonder that academic numismatists are right to stress, as Elkins does,
"ancient coins must be considered by cultural preservationists no differently than any other ancient object".