by Peter Tompa
How can a Bulgarian coin imported into the US be considered "stolen" cultural property of Bulgaria when the exact same types of coins are legally available for sale there?
This, of course, is more a question for US Customs than for Mr. Barford. If the US Customs official in question believes that any illegal export from Bulgaria constitutes a theft, that would be contrary to the US law he has sworn to uphold. While Bulgaria has asked the US to impose import restrictions on cultural goods, that request has not yet been acted upon by the US State Department and US Customs. And even if import restrictions are imposed, illegal import does not constitute theft under any application of US law. Rather, import without the appropriate documentation would constitute a violation of the import controls of the Cultural Property Implementation Act. There is a difference between illegal export, illegal export and theft, despite what some archaeologists (and apparently some US Customs officials) believe.
The reason there was no answer is that Mr. Barford has no answer.
Mr. Barford believes that the law is something that does not apply equally to everyone. It applies strictly and harshly to collectors and the antiquities trade, and loosely and elastically to archaeologists and cultural property retentionists, according to his point of view.
The previous post in this blog presents a metal detectorist's perceptive take on Mr. Barford.
Peter Tompa's post makes it clear that the detectorist was accurate in his assessment, and that the utterances of Mr. Barford will continue to be exactly the same sort of flatulent bosh he has emitted voluminously for so many years.