Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cultural Property and Italy

The US Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) will be reviewing the MOU with Italy on Friday November 13, 2009. CPAC will consider Article II and how it relates to "the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material Representing the Pre-Classical, Classical and Imperial Roman Periods of Italy".

Italy has made huge strides to deter looting. The raids on the Geneva Freeport have led directly to well over 100 antiquities being returned from North American public collections - from AAMD member institutions. The AAMD has been persuaded to adopt the international standard of 1970 for the acquisition of archaeological material.

Italy has also convicted one dealer; another dealer and a North American museum curator are now on trial. A further dealer is clearly under investigation.

Article II of the MOU also encourages Italy to investigate the "routes" for these smuggled antiquities. A study of the returned items shows an elaborate network of European and North American dealers who have handled the material. Recent raids in New York City show that such looted material continues to surface, perhaps suggesting that those who trade in archaeological material need to be more rigorous in their research.

Italy has been generous with its loans in return. Archaeological material has been offered to various North American museums to fill gaps left by the returns.

Hopefully those speaking tomorrow will be seeking to preserve the archaeological record of Italy and to build on the positive relations that that have been developing in the wake of the Medici Conspiracy.

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