Curtailing the loss of cultural patrimony by curtailing demand

SAFECORNERArticle, Commentary1 Comment

EBay Egyptian Antiquities screenshot

Three years ago, we made this appeal to the trade: [U]ntil order is restored, we believe that if the demand for Egyptian antiquities is curtailed, if not stopped, the loss of Egypt’s cultural patrimony during this tumultuous time would be curbed. We then conducted a poll on the question: “Should market countries stop buying antiquities from Egypt until order is restored?” Seventy-six percent responded “Yes”; and … Read More

Remembering Donny George: A Tribute from SAFE


All those concerned about preserving our ancient past felt a chill down the spine upon hearing the news of Donny George’s sudden passing. Whether or not they knew him in person, a sense of loss was palpable within the community. On March 11, 2011, we lost a colleague and a friend. We also lost an eloquent advocate and a powerful—if … Read More

More False Claims about Lobbying on Antiquities Issues

Nathan ElkinsCommentary1 Comment

David Gill has recently addressed claims made by Peter Tompa that appear to have little basis in fact. Tompa is a lobbyist who represents commercial trade interests. He has alleged that the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI) “was involved in behind-the-scenes lobbying on behalf of the Cypriot Department of Antiquities, the Cypriot government body that issues excavation permits that … Read More

The ACCG “Benefit Auction”

Nathan ElkinsCommentary5 Comments

I have critiqued the goals, motives, and tactics of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG) several times (those unfamiliar with the ACCG are urged to consult a list of some relevant web-postings at the end of this discussion). For those who do not know, the ACCG is a 501 (c) 4 organization to which financial contributions are not normally tax … Read More

The case for Cyprus

Jessica DietzlerInterviewLeave a Comment

  In light of the recent decision to include ancient coins on the list of import restrictions, Jessica Dietzler conducted the following interview with Dr. Pavlos Flourentzos, Director of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, about the significance of the decision and why it is important to safeguarding the cultural heritage of Cyprus. The Government of Cyprus has ratified several international binding treaties in order to safeguard … Read More

“All the news that’s fit to print”?

SAFECORNERCommentary2 Comments

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 … Read More

Archaeologists don’t care about ancient coins?

Nathan ElkinsArticleLeave a Comment

The notion that classical archaeologists do not care about ancient coins, or are ignorant of the utility of their study, is a myth repeatedly perpetuated by vocal members of the coin dealer lobby. One evident example is on the FAQ page of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG): “Aren’t archaeologists good custodians of ancient coins? While a few dedicated archaeologist-numismatists … Read More

It’s All the Same: the Looting of ‘High Art’ vs. the Looting of the Minor Arts

Nathan ElkinsArticle, Commentary4 Comments

When ancient objects are studied from recorded contexts, usually through scientific excavation, they are invaluable historical sources. In archaeological excavations, all classes of objects are systematically recorded and studied by specialists. Archaeology has evolved from its origins in treasure-hunting and the indiscriminate antiquarian accumulation of objects into a scientific discipline, which treats each object as an historical source, the usefulness … Read More

Codes of Ethics vs. the Financial Interest

Nathan ElkinsCommentary1 Comment

It is curious that some groups of antiquities dealers have adopted “Codes of Ethics,” which do not seem to be rigorously enforced or acknowledged in practice. One group of ancient coin dealers that claims to advocate for cultural preservation, while opposing any legislative efforts designed to curb looting and the trade in illicit antiquities that also affect the unregulated trade … Read More

Can Cultural Property Legislation Kill an Academic Discipline?

Nathan ElkinsArticle, Commentary2 Comments

To those of us who advocate for cultural property protection, it is impossible to think that such efforts would have anything but positive effects on the preservation of information and cultural heritage. However, one lobby, the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG), opposes such protective measures as they relate to the uncontrolled trade in ancient coins and assert that if cultural … Read More