Monday, January 25, 2010

Cyprus: pots and coins

There has been a reminder of the scale of looting on Cyprus. There is a report by Menelaos Hadjicostis on the breaking up of a major "smuggling ring" ("Cyprus police bust large antiquities theft ring", AP January 25, 2010). The raid found pottery and limestone sculptures as well as silver and bronze coins valued at 11 million Euros. Ten Cypriot nationals were arrested and five others, including a Syrian national, were on the run. The antiquities are reported to have been found in the region of Limassol and Paphos.

A seizure like this is a good reminder of the need for agreements to protect the finite cultural resources of Cyprus. This includes the MOU between Cyprus and the United States. The presence of coins in the haul shows that coins need to be part of any agreement. It also explains why coin dealers have been challenging the agreement.

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Cultural Property Observer said...

David- Once again, your logic is flawed. If anything, this proves that Cyprus has the police forces available to handle its looting problem internally without requiring American collectors and dealers importing coins to make an impossible provenance showing Cypriot collectors and others around the EU are not required to make.

And apparently US Customs is so busy with other pressing matters that after almost 10 months it has yet to get around to filing a forfeiture action against the unprovenanced Cypriot and Chinese coins the ACCG imported for purposes of a test case. Perhaps, under the circumstances, we should forget about expanding import restrictions further and allow the Cypriots, Chinese, Italians etc. take care of their own problems.


Peter Tompa

Nathan T. Elkins said...

Flawed logic? The logic espoused in the comment above is that if the police are adept at enforcing laws, then those laws are not necessary. Is this not in itself contradictory? If police arrest people involved in the sale of stolen auto parts, then do we not need laws against trading in stolen goods? Or might one steal a car to "test" the validity of that law?

In fact, the MOU explicitly calls for further enforcement on the ground in Cyprus and the press release discussed here relays, in part, the successes of that agreement.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Nathan, the statutory history of the CPIA indicates that import restrictions were only supposed to be a temporary expedient to allow the source country time to ramp up its enforcement efforts.

Cyprus is a wealthy EU country and has the financial means to do this. I recognize the Cypriots say they cannot control what goes on in the Turkish side of the Island, but then again most commentators put the blame for the continuance of that sad situation squarely on the Greek Cypriots.

Finally, if Cyprus is truly interested in protecting its archaeological sites as opposed to pressing its nationalistic claims, why are the restrictions phrased as being on "coins of Cypriot type" as opposed to any coins traced back to Cyprus?

Best wishes,

Peter Tompa

John Muccigrosso said...


I honestly do not know what the answer to your final question is, but Isn't an obvious solution that it closes the loophole of "coins of a Cypriot type" that the possessor claims are not from Cyprus?


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