Wednesday, August 05, 2009

THE IAA is registering private antiquities collections:
Israel Antiquities Authority to register antiquities collections held by the general public in Israel
4 Aug 2009

Estimate: In Israel there are at least 100,000 people who can be considered ‘collectors of antiquities’.

(Communicated by the Israel Antiquities Authority Spokesperson)

The Israel Antiquities Authority is embarking on a first of its kind campaign to register the antiquities collections that are held by the general public in Israel. An individual that is listed in the state’s databank as the owner of an antiquities collection will be recognized by the state as a “collector of antiquities”.

Israel is one of the world’s richest countries in archaeological artifacts. As such, over the years private individuals have discovered thousands of archaeological finds during the course of development work, agricultural work, etc.

In 2002 the legal status of a collector of antiquities in Israel was regulated, which is defined as “one who collects antiquities otherwise than for the purpose of trading therein”. The law defines an antiquities collection as: “an assemblage of fifteen antiquities or more.” It is estimated that there are at least 100,000 people in Israel who can be considered by definition “collectors of antiquities”, but only several hundred of them are recognized by the state.

In February 2009 regulations took effect that will enable enforcing the law which was passed in 2002. The IAA is now calling on the public to comply in accordance with the law and report any antiquities they possess. An individual doing so will be granted the status of collector according to law and will be issued a certificate. The antiquities will be registered as the property of the collector and anyone who wishes to sell the collection they own can receive permission from the IAA to do so. Thus on the one hand, the collector can sell the antiquities he possesses, and on the other, the state will know to whom the object was transferred.

Overall, this sounds like a very positive development to me. I would, however, like to have a clearer idea how the new regulations have been formulated to avoid encouraging people to buy looted artifacts and then register them. Or is that battle now a lost cause?

(Via Joseph I. Lauer's list.)