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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Cultural Heritage MoU with Peru Extended

The United States government last week extended import restrictions safeguarding ancient archaeological and ethnological materials originating from Peru. The restrictions, which took effect June 9, last for five years and cover cultural heritage objects “in jeopardy from pillage.”

The archaeological site of Moray, an Inca ruin located in Peru.
Particular cultural artifacts dating from 12,000 B.C. through 1532 A.D. are covered under the new federal rules. The designated list encompasses Pre-Columbian textiles such as Chimu´ feather cloth panels, Nazca sashes, and Inca slings; Pre-Columbian metal objects like necklaces and penachos, metal feathers made of gold, silver, or copper used to decorate crowns; Pre-Columbian lithics such as stone bowls and cups; Pre-Columbian human remains like mummies; ethnological objects like Catholic liturgical items such as chalices and crucifixes; and Colonial manuscripts and documents like wills and books—a new category appearing on the designated list. The entire designated list can be found here.

Import controls protecting Peruvian heritage objects, enacted under authority of the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA),  have remained in place for 27 years. The CPIA is the federal law that implements the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

The U.S. first promulgated emergency import restrictions on May 7, 1990 to conserve at-risk archaeological material from Peru’s Sipan Archaeological Region. Later, in 1997, the U.S. and Peru entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that set up import restrictions on objects from Pre-Hispanic cultures and on ethnological items from the Colonial period. The U.S. extended this bilateral agreement with Peru in 2002, 2007, and 2012.

Now that the MoU has been renewed for another five years, cultural property lawyers and importers must take note, keeping in mind the 1972 law that is still applicable to Peruvian artifacts, the Importation of Pre-Columbian Monumental or Architectural Sculpture or Murals Act.

Photo credit: getye1/freeimages.com

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