Washington, DC - As part of its interagency coordination responsibilities for the preservation of cultural heritage, the U.S. Department of State announces the imposition of import restrictions on archaeological and ethnological material of Syria. The restrictions, in the form of a Final Rule published by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of the Treasury in the August 15 Federal Register, are effective immediately.
These import restrictions are intended to reduce the incentive for pillage to better preserve Syria’s cultural heritage and to combat profiting from the sale of these artifacts by terrorists and criminal organizations. Syria’s ancient and historic sites are the archive of a unique history, the study of which, despite generations of scholarship, has only just begun. Preserving the cultural heritage of Syria will be a vital component in shaping a future for the country based on reconstruction, reconciliation, and building civil society.
The emergency import restrictions are enacted pursuant to the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act of 2016, which was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Obama. The restrictions apply to any cultural property unlawfully removed from Syria on or after March 15, 2011, including objects of stone; metal; ceramic, clay, and faience; wood; glass; ivory; bone, and shell; plaster and stucco; textile, parchment, paper, and leather; painting and drawing; mosaic; and writing.