On a related topic, here's an excerpt from the American Numismatic Society's Pocket Change blog post from October 6, 2015
about Executive Director Ute Wartenberg Kagan's recent speech about the problem of conflict antiquities. -Editor
Ute Wartenberg Kagan, Executive Director of the American Numismatic Society, spoke about collecting coins and the conflict in Syria as part
of a larger program about conflict antiquities last week. The event was sponsored by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational
and Cultural Affairs, and was hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on September 29th. As described by the State Department, the
panel discussions “highlighted the connection between ISIL’s looting and trafficking of antiquities and the financing of terrorist operations . . .
and forged public-private education and advocacy campaigns about best practices for museums, collectors, and auction houses around the world.”
The first of two panels featured officials from the State Department, United Nations, Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI, as
well as the Michael Danti of the American Schools for Oriental Research. The State Department for the first time presented publicly
concrete evidence that ISIL is systematically looting archaeological sites in Syria, and is profiting from selling the antiquities on the
This is a topic that was previously explored on this blog, but the government’s presentation leaves no doubt that there has been a very
organized and focused effort by ISIL to profit from the trade in antiquities. The full PDF presentation including photographic
documentation of the evidence can be viewed and downloaded here.
The second panel hosted six speakers from the ANS, CBS News, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pergamon Museum, Christie’s, and eBay
to discuss best-practices and communication regarding exercising thorough due diligence when buying and selling antiquities. Wartenberg’s
presentation focused on the American Numismatic Society’s guidelines for the acquisition of coins, and its recommendations to its Members
who collect about how to protect themselves from buying potentially looted coins. The ANS promotes and supports ethical coin collecting,
but reminds buyers to exercise both caution and common sense when considering purchasing fresh coins from Syria and surrounding
Throughout 2015 and 2016, the ANS will host various events during which Members will be given the opportunity to learn more about these
issues, and to discuss them with the senior staff and administration. Details about these events will be posted on the ANS’s Events and
Lastly, we would like to underscore Wartenberg’s concluding remarks that the American Numismatic Society’s curatorial staff is committed
to taking a more active role in raising awareness about the destruction of national heritage and the looting of antiquities, including
coins. As she notes, much of this damage will be impossible to undo, but we will nevertheless work to “engage collectors, dealers,
archaeologists, legislators, and law enforcement officials in a dialogue that creates a 21st-century academic discipline and hobby for
serious coin collectors as it should be undertaken.”
To read the complete article, see:
CONFLICT ANTIQUITIES AND THE ANS
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