I had noted that Sebastian Heath's presentation on behalf of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) had caused concern. A collector advocacy group issued a press release in the wake of the review and described the AIA presentation as "a wakeup call for thousands of private collectors, museums and independent scholars".
Sebastian Heath has now placed a report (as well as the text of his submission to CPAC) on the website of the AIA ("Politics & Archaeology: A First-Person Account of the CPAC Meeting Reviewing Italian Import Restrictions"). He commented on the response from the museum community:
When we had all finished, I was pleased to note that the speakers representing museums generally praised the cooperation of their Italian counterparts in efforts to arrange loans to American institutions. It is clear that museums in this country would like to display Italian objects for longer periods than is currently possible, which seems to be a reasonable request. Only one museum representative, from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, seemed to question the premise that it is appropriate to use the MoU to restrict import of antiquities from Italy with the goal of protecting sites and preserving information on the context of ancient art.No doubt the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is wanting to deflect interest from the Athenian red-figured volute-krater that was reportedly acquired from Robin Symes.
I was particularly interested to read Heath's version of the discussion about ancient coins. I had earlier observed:
Tompa asserted that "Italy has done a poor job taking care of the coins at state institutions and archaeological sites".Now we can read the perspective of the AIA representative:
Another voice heard at the CPAC meeting was that of ancient coin collectors and dealers. Like many AIA members, one of the areas in which I’ve published scholarly articles is ancient numismatics so the protection of coins is of great interest to me. Archaeologists are members of the numismatic community, and it is important that our voice is heard. Speaking for coin dealers, Peter Tompa, who represented both the International Association of Professional Numismatists and the Professional Numismatists Guild and who has also released a summary of his written submission, suggested that Italian museums are not good stewards of their numismatic collections and that Italian archaeologists do a poor job publishing excavated coins. My experience suggests that neither is the case. The Palazzo Massimo in Rome has a superb numismatic display that features excavated material, including hoard finds, to trace the rise and use of coinage from the Republican period onwards. The website www.fastionline.org reports the discovery of coins and often places them in context by discussing the sites on which they were found. Unfortunately, the current MoU does not include coins as a protected category. If Italy does request that coins be included in a future agreement, it is likely that the AIA would support such a move.Heath seems to suggest that Tompa was either deliberately presenting misleading information to CPAC or was unaware of the true situation in Italy. Such a conclusion is surprising given that Tompa is a director of the Cultural Property Research Institute (CPRI). What does Tompa's presentation say about the quality of the "research" that is likely to be produced by the CPRI? (For earlier reservations see here.)
Tompa's apparent misrepresentation of evidence would seem to strengthen the case for including coins in any future review of the MOU with Italy.
Heath's account comes close on the heals of the outcome of the FOIA case relating to the import of coins from Italy.