Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Way to go CAARI

The Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute's Code of Ethics indicates that it supports the following principles:
  1. archaeological excavations be carried out under the highest standards possible;

  2. illicit trade of antiquities be actively discouraged; and

  3. the authorities of the Department of Antiquities be informed of any improper activities involving excavation or exportation of archaeological artifacts.
I am glad to see Peter Tompa documenting that affiliates of CAARI put these principles into action in working to increase the likelihood that the findspots of Cypriot coins will be properly recorded. He highlights the efforts of the late Danielle Parks. Dr. Parks was an acquaintance of mine in college and I worked with her for one season on Cyprus, where she made her greatest impact. I suspect that she knew the seriousness of her illness during the period when she consulted with the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. If so, I applaud her willingness to engage with this important professional matter towards the end of her life.

Wikiquote
doesn't provide a citation for the following quote attributed to Justice Brandeis:
The most important political office is that of the private citizen.
Regardless, it is good to see an archaeologist living up to this creed.

Those who click through to Tompa's post on the ACCG site will note the conspiratorial tone of his news item. Click even further for his observations that archaeologists effectively represent archaeological interests in their interactions with the United States Government. This is good news.

If there is a conspiracy, count me in. I'm happy to state right here that I too have been consulted by the State Department on matters of cultural heritage leglislation and that I've visited Congressional offices on the same topic. I certainly defer to Dr. Parks when it comes to the efficacy of my interactions but do hope to live up to her example.

6 comments:

Nathan T. Elkins said...

Sebastian,

I am glad you chose to comment on this. I did not know Dr. Parks personally, but I was aware of her work on Cypriot coinage; her book on the subject remains the only systematic study of the coins from the island. I also know firsthand that she was well loved and respected since she is an alumna of my department at the University of Missouri and I often heard people discuss her and her work. She was an authority - if not the authority - Cypriot coinage and it would be only natural that government officials would contact her if there were a question about Cypriot coins in matters regarding looting, export, or legislative concerns. It would be both absurd and in bad taste to imply she played some part in a "conspiracy."

Best,
Nathan

David Gill said...

For Park's The Roman Coinage of Cyprus see WorldCat.

For a review: BMCR.

Sebastian Heath said...

Fixed link for the review: BMCR.

This series of messages, as posted on rogueclassicism, provides more info on Dr. Parks.

With regards, Sebastian.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Sebastian- You have apparently missed the point. My concern (as well as ACCG's and most every collector I know who have studied the issue) is that ECA was conferring with Dr. Parks secretly about import restrictions on coins even before Cyprus asked for it.

I would like to tell you exactly the nature of the communication, but apparently State does not want to let us know about it.

State has an obligation to treat everyone fairly. Here, in contrast, State apparently viewed CAARI as a shadow CPAC. Indeed, the entire decision certainly had a "preordained" feel to it.

That is our concern and in my opinion your misrepresentation of that concern is highly disingenous.

Sincerely,

Peter Tompa

Sebastian Heath said...

Peter, I haven't missed your point at all, nor am I being disingenuous.

I'm hope we agree that you agree that you were documenting activity by Dr. Parks. While it seems that the ACCG has not released the materials it has to the wider public, meaning that you don't link to your sources, I think "documenting" is a reasonable term to use in regards to your news item on the ACCG site.

I also believe it's fair to say that you disapprove of the interactions between ECA and Dr. Parks. I, however, approve of them and was clear in my praise for her. It does turn out that I was unknowingly on the right track when I framed her efforts as those of a private citizen. As I noted in a later post, Dr. Parks was not a CAARI trustee. I leave it you to document that she was in any way acting as CAARI's agent in her work with ECA. But the general structure of my post seems clear: on the basis of your facts, I reached my opinions. No misrepresentation there and no being disingenuous.

I characterized your writings on this matter as having a "conspiratorial tone". Surely you don't disagree with that? Even in your comment you write that, "State apparently viewed CAARI as a shadow CPAC". Again, I can't see that I'm misrepresenting anything. I, of course, look at the actions you have described and see "archaeologists effectively represent[ing] archaeological interests". That's my opinion and I'm entitled to it. How is expressing it disingenuous?

Cultural Property Observer said...

Sebastian-

A notice of Dr. Parks' death identities her as a CAARI Trustee. See: http://www.atrium-media.com/rogueclassicism/Posts/00006587.html ("Danielle loved Cyprus and was a trustee of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI).") This may or may not be accurate, but certainly Dr. Parks was so intimately associated with CARRI that a scholarship has been named in her honor.

I am not in a position to release the documents produced on my own and it would probably be premature to do so anyway until we can see if we can get unredacted copies of the materials produced.

In any event, if State needed to confer with someone about coins, one would have hoped they would have conferred with a neutral party like the ANS or the British Museum or the Smithsonian rather than a party intimately associated with one of the primary driving forces behind the push for restrictions.

This is not an isolated event. The record which you can piece together for yourself from the ACCG website and my blog suggests that the State Department violated its ethical and legal duty to act as an honest broker in this matter.


Sincerely,

Peter Tompa