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Diplomacy in Action

United States Extends Agreement Protecting Italy's Archaeological Materials Representing the Pre-classical, Classical and Imperial Roman Periods


Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 19, 2011

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The Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Italy exchanged diplomatic notes extending and amending the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) imposing import restrictions on categories of archaeological material representing Pre-Classical, Classical and Imperial Roman periods of Italy. The MOU, which first entered into force January 19, 2001, was extended for an additional five-year period until 2016.

The MOU is especially helpful in enriching American cultural life through research, educational programs, and loans between Italian and American institutions. Under the MOU, loan initiatives have brought Italian antiquities to U.S. museums large and small, and have fostered a spirit of mutual goodwill.

Restricted categories of archaeological material may enter the United States if accompanied by either an export permit issued by the Government of the Republic of Italy or other documentation indicating the material left Italy prior to January 19, 2001, the effective date of the restriction. Italy and United States cooperation in this area occurs within the 1970 UNESCO Convention framework to reduce the pillage of archaeological sites. Reports from the Carabinieri Special Unit for the Protection of Artistic Heritage and the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities indicate that archaeological looting in Italy remains a severe problem. Much of that material enters the United States and other countries.

In response to a diplomatic note from Italy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) amended the Designated List of restricted categories to include certain Italian coins produced from the 9th century B.C. to 37 A.D. Coins, a significant and inseparable part of the archaeological record, are especially valuable to understanding the history of Italy. The unauthorized search for coins in Italy is exacerbated by metal detecting, an activity that is destructive to fragile archaeological deposits.

DHS today published in the Federal Register a Designated List of the restricted Italian artifacts, including categories of stone, metal, ceramic and glass artifacts, and wall paintings, ranging in date from approximately the 9th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. The Designated List and an image database can be found at http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/culprop.html.

Through special enabling legislation, the U.S. Department of State implements the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The Department accepts requests from countries for import restrictions on archaeological or ethnological material, the pillage of which places their national cultural heritage in jeopardy. Under the President's authority, and following a review process undertaken by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, the Department may enter into a cultural property agreement with the requesting country.

Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, StearnsCL@state.gov, phone (202) 632-6437



PRN: 2011/079



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