• “All the news that’s fit to print”?

    A few important omissions in Jeremy Kahn’s “Coin Dealers Sue State Dept. for Details on Import Bans” in the New York Times, on November 17, 2007 should be pointed out:

    In the article, Mr. Kahn claimed, “It was the first time the government had barred trade in a broad category of ancient coins…” But this is not true. While the US/Cyprus bilateral agreement does represent the first time that ancient coins have been subject to temporary import restrictions under the Cultural Property Implementation Act, coins have been subject to government-mandated import restrictions for many years in other contexts. For example, Executive Order 12722, which prohibits the importation of ancient coins from Iraq, went into effect on August 2, 1990. This order has been renewed several times, e.g., see section 4 of the renewal dated July 29, 2004. This prohibition remains in ...

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  • University Suppresses Report on Provenance of Iraqi Antiquities

    The following article appeared in Science Magazine on October 26, 2007 and is reproduced here with permission from the author, Michael Balter.

    University College London (UCL), one of Britain’s premier universities, has become embroiled in a dispute over its handling of a large collection of religious artifacts that may have been part of the illicit trade in archaeological relics from Iraq in recent years. Last year, a committee of experts UCL established to investigate the matter concluded that “on the balance of probabilities,” the artifacts were illegally removed from Iraq, and in the past months Iraqi officials have taken steps to recover the relics. Their actions come after UCL agreed this summer to return the collection to its owner, a wealthy retired Norwegian businessman who had sued UCL for their recovery. As part of a settlement of that suit, UCL agreed not to publish the committee’s report.

    “It ...

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