Tompa wrote that,
Archaeo-blogger Paul Barford has put up a story on his blog about wealthy Cypriot collectors getting their collections of antiquities looted from Northern Cyprus "legalized" by the Cypriot antiquities authority.These particular Cypriot collectors were wealthy; but Tompa appears to insert the novel reference to their wealth (absent from my and Barford's blog posts) in order to contrast them to supposedly poor American collectors, unjustly disadvantaged by corrupt Cypriot governance (through its antiquities policy).
Subsequently, these same collectors purchased materials looted from a cemetary in the Greek controlled area of Cyprus and nothing was done....It sounds like Tompa wants everyone to be allowed to collect as much looted material as they want. That impression is reinforced by Tompa's conclusion:
This... exemplifies the corrupt nature of the Greek-Cypriot state where how the law is applied depends on who you are, and the connected few are allowed to collect as much looted material as they want.
It is also worth noting that the archaeological community's unqualified support for import restrictions on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus only helps prop up such a corrupt system. Hopefully, the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and CPAC [U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee] will take notice when the current Cypriot MOU [Memorandum of Understanding, a U.S.-Cypriot Cultural Property Agreement to prevent U.S. import of unlicensed Cypriot antiquities)] comes up for renewal.I queried Tompa's argument:
I disagree with the Cypriot antiquities department's secret agreement with private collectors between 1963 and 1973; however, it was a policy born of desperation.Tompa replied:
The archaeologists desperately wanted to prevent the loss of their illicitly-excavated cultural heritage to international private collectors who did not care that they were buying stolen property, and thereby funding ultra-nationalist paramilitaries who terrorised and slaughtered civilians.
Why would an honourable collector/lawyer take advantage of whatever corruption there may be, and (misguided) efforts to combat political violence-funding cultural destruction, in order to lobby for the weakening of Cypriot cultural heritage protection?
The reason the policy was wrong was that the state and its trusted allies merely replaced the international art collectors as the ultimate funders of the looting and violence.
Thank you for your comment. Cyprus is entitled to promulgate any cultural property laws it deems appropriate. But those laws should be applied consistently and the fact there is one law for the wealthy collector another for everyone else should weigh heavily against US Customs and the US State Department helping Cyprus to enforce those laws outside its own jursidiction.Again, Tompa tries to create an association between Cypriot collectors, wealth and corruption, and an opposition between those corrupt, wealthy Cypriot collectors and the law-abiding, poor(!?) American collectors.
More bizarrely, Tompa again uses whatever corruption, poorly-planned policy and embarrassed inactivity there may be in Cyprus, not to condemn poor policy or embarrassed inactivity, but to complain that American law might interfere with American collectors' attempts to take advantage of Cypriot antiquities policy in order to acquire looted antiquities from Cyprus.
Tompa's blog has been reproduced on the Museum Security Network mailing list. Any subsequent discussion on the mailing list can be followed either on the Museum Security Network's own website, or in its Google Group.