|Theater at Sabratha, Libya. Photo by Vince Michael for GHF.|
The Libyans have asked us to help them protect their past. As cultural property expert Peter Tompa notes:
It remains to be seen how a country with two competing governments, that is over-run by militias and which remains in danger from ISIS can meet its obligations under UNESCO and the CPIA to protect and preserve is own cultural property let alone that which may be repatriated from the US under the terms of any agreement. Libya needs our help, but that help should be focused on protecting its world class archaeological sites from the depredations of ISIS and other radical Islamic groups. Turning US Customs loose to seize and forfeit "undocumented" "Libyan" artifacts will only harm legitimate trade and the appreciation for Libya's ancient cultures. It certainly won't help protect Libyan archaeological sites and museums from their greatest threat, which is hammer and explosive wielding religious fanatics.The total blindness of the opponents of collecting to such threats is disturbing, to say the least.