Monday, May 16, 2016

New antiquities registration law in Israel

REGULATION: In new crackdown, antiquities authorities tighten noose around dealers, thieves. Regulatory agency mandates digital database, ‘closing the loopholes’ to prevent stolen artifacts reaching the Israeli market (Ilan Ben Zion, Times of Israel).
The antiquities thief finally gives up and leaves, stepping out into the April air.

“It would be better for him to find a new means of livelihood,” the antiquities dealer tells this reporter.

The thief is likely not alone. A new requirement by the Israel Antiquities Authority requiring the country’s licensed antiquities dealers to register their artifacts in a digital database is aiming to shut down the blight of antiquities theft in Israel.

The requirement was introduced on March 28, following a last, desperate failed appeal by dealers to the High Court of Justice to halt the regulation.

As one antiquities dealer told The Times of Israel, the goal is to “close all the loopholes” through which some licensed dealers have interacted with Israel’s “very dark gray” antiquities market. Some dealers will drop out of the business as a result, he speculated.

The IAA attempted to introduce the system, called Antique-net, four years ago, but a handful of antiquities dealers sued, putting its implementation on hold. Now it is legally binding, and dealers must photograph, register and detail all items in their storerooms and upload them to the IAA’s network. All purchases and sales have to be placed through the registry for approval by the IAA; once cleared, an object is digitally transferred from a dealer’s inventory to the buyer’s.

This means it will become significantly harder for black market antiquities to make their way to a licensed dealer’s shop.

I hope this does some good. As of this writing the "Antique-net" link was dead.

Another matter of interest is mentioned toward the end of the article:
In March, the IAA called on Israelis to volunteer a few hours a month to help protect Israel’s 30,000 archaeological sites from looters and vandals. In the month and a half since the initiative was made public, over 180 people have registered, Ganor said.

“We recognize that among the general public there are people who can help the operations of the IAA in protecting and preserving the country’s antiquities,” he said in his office at the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem.

“It’s no secret that there aren’t a lot of employees in the IAA,” he said. In all there are around 700 staffers nationwide to protect the country’s thousands of ancient sites. “Pretty much every other hill out there is an archaeological site.”