Turkish-US pact cracks down on archaeological trade

A pact with the U.S. on restricting imports of archaeological and ethnological materials from Turkey was published in the nation's Official Gazette on March 5. 

Under the memorandum of understanding, signed on Jan. 19 in the Turkish capital Ankara, both countries will act in line with the 1970 UNESCO Convention on prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export, and transfer of ownership of cultural property.

Under the pact, Turkey will impose restrictions on importation into the US of certain archaeological materials, including objects in stone, metal, and ceramic ranging in date from 1,200,000 BC and AD 1770.

Turkey also restricted imports of certain ethnological materials including objects in stone, wood, textile, leather, and parchment ranging in date from the first century AD to 1923, it said.

The U.S. shall offer for return to Turkey any object or material on the designated list forfeited to the government of the U.S., it added.

Turkey will continue its best efforts to maintain and share information with the U.S. about unauthorized excavations, thefts of cultural property, trafficking of cultural property, and other threats that jeopardize its cultural patrimony, it noted.

Both countries agreed to encourage the interchange of archaeological and ethnological materials for cultural, educational, and specific purposes, including long-term loans of such materials to promote widespread public appreciation of and access to Turkey's rich cultural heritage.

The memorandum will remain in force for five years if it is not extended, it said.

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