U.S. Response:
Back to HOME | Overview | Implementation


U.S. Protection of Byzantine Ecclesiastical and Ritual Ethnological Materials


On April 12, 1999, the U.S. imposed an emergency import restriction on Byzantine ecclesiastical and ritual ethnological material from Cyprus unless such material is accompanied by an export permit issued by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Acting Director of the United States Information Agency, Penn Kemble, made the determination in support of this action after considering a recommendation from the Cultural Property Advisory Committee.

The emergency import restriction is in response to a request from the Government of the Republic of Cyprus seeking protection of its cultural heritage under Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Both the United States and Cyprus are parties to this Convention, an international framework of cooperation among nations to reduce the illicit movement of cultural property across international borders. Cyprus is the first country in the Mediterranean region to seek the help of the United States in protecting its cultural property.

Materials produced during the Byzantine period illustrate the high degree of artistic achievement on Cyprus and include some of the finest pieces of Byzantine art ever produced. International recognition of certain Byzantine monuments on the island is exemplified by their inscription on the World Heritage List. The categories of Byzantine ritual and ecclesiastical ethnological material subject to the import restriction include objects of metal, wood, ivory and bone, textiles, stone (mosaics), and frescos (wall paintings). They range in date from approximately the 4th century A.D. through approximately the 15th century A.D. A description of the artifacts was published by the U.S. Customs Service on April 12, 1999, in the Federal Register. The Cyprus Image Collection provides illustrations of some categories of restricted artifacts.

Home | Site Index | Disclaimer & Credits | Contact Us | Back To Top 
Revised: April 12, 1999

Cyprus Image Collection

1999 Federal Register Notice (html)

Frequently Asked Questions 

On October 1, 1999, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will become part of the
U.S. Department of State. Bureau webpages are being updated accordingly. Thank you for your patience.