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
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.