Commentary by Peter K. Tompa regarding an ACCG Query to the Director of Antiquities of Cyprus about the decision to impose import restrictions on ancient coins of "Cypriot Types".
Recently, “Saving Antiquities for Everyone” or “SAFE” posted an interview with Dr. Pavlos Flourentzos, Director of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus on its website. In that interview, Jessica Dietzler, a student who has participated in an archaeological dig in Cyprus presumably approved by Flourentzos’ Department, posed several scripted questions to the Director. SAFE has posted the interview on its website at: http://www.savingantiquities.org/feature_cyprusinterview.php Flourentzos’ responses have been trumpeted by SAFE and its members like David Gill (see: http://lootingmatters.blogspot.com/2007/12/coins-and-cyprus-response-from.html as providing justification for the U.S. State Department’s recent unprecedented extension of import restrictions on ancient coins of Cypriot type.
Far from encouraging “constructive dialogue” with coin collectors, an objective recently proposed on the “SAFE Corner Blog,” Flourentzos goes out of his way to denigrate the efforts of ancient coin collectors (both in the United States and Cyprus) to preserve, study and display the thousands upon thousands of ancient coins of Cypriot type extant. Instead, Flourentzos apparently believes that chronically under-funded State institutions under his tutelage are the best repositories even for common items like ancient coins. This view is proffered despite the haphazard approach to archaeology on the Island chronicled by the Cyprus Mail in an article entitled, “Too Much Digging is Damaging our Heritage.” See: http://www.cyprus-mail.com/news/main.php?id=23075&archive=1 In this regard, it is indeed telling that the best known museum within Cyprus holding ancient coins of Cypriot type is not a state entity at all, but rather the privately financed Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation collection. See: http://www.boccf.org/main/default.aspx?tabid=46
In light of Dr. Flourentzos’ decision to grant SAFE an interview, ACCG has also requested in a letter from David Welsh, Chairman of the guild's International Affairs Committee, that he respond to some additional related questions. The letter was transmitted via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
It will be interesting to see if Dr. Flourentzos grants ACCG the courtesy of a response, in light of the prior failures of Cypriot authorities to respond to other requests for information both before and after Cyprus made its request for import restrictions on ancient coins of Cypriot types.