U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a final rule that, effective Dec. 6, imposes import restrictions on certain archaeological material from Egypt. According to a LiveScience article, this rule implements a Nov. 30 bilateral agreement that aims to “help curtail the widespread looting that has hit the country” since its 2011 revolution. The article notes that since that time more than $143 million worth of artifacts, some of which may have been looted, have been exported from Egypt to the U.S.
The materials subject to the new import restrictions represent the pre-dynastic, pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic, and early Islamic periods and cultures, dating from 5200 B.C. through 1517 A.D., and include the following categories.
- stone sculpture, vessels and containers, funerary objects and equipment (including sarcophagi and coffins), objects of daily use (e.g., chests and boxes, games and game pieces), tools and weapons, jewelry, amulets, and seals, and ostraca (chips of stone used as a surface for writing or drawing)
- metal sculpture, vessels and containers, objects of daily use (e.g., musical instruments), tools, weapons and armor, jewelry, amulets, and seals, Coptic liturgical objects (e.g., censers and lamps), and coins
- ceramic and clay sculpture, Islamic architectural decorations, vessels and containers, objects of daily use (e.g., game pieces, toys, and lamps), and writing (e.g., cuneiform tablets)
- wood sculpture, architectural elements, funerary objects and equipment, objects of daily use (e.g., furniture, musical instruments, and chariots), and tools and weapons
- faience (a glossy, silicate-based fired material) and glass
- ivory, bone, and shell sculpture and objects of daily use (e.g., chests and boxes, musical instruments, cosmetic containers, combs, and jewelry)
- plaster, cartonnage (pieces of papyrus or linen covered with plaster and molded into a shape), and stucco
- textile, basketry, and rope
- leather and parchment
- painting and drawing (e.g., tomb painting and rock art)
- human and animal mummies