Signing of the U.S.-Jordan Cultural Property Agreement

AMMAN – A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Government of the United States of America on Monday, December 16, 2019 under the auspices of the Assistant US Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Mrs. Marie Royce and Director General of the Department of Antiquities, Mr. Yazid Alayyan.

This memorandum aims to restrict the import of Jordanian artifacts to the United States of America, which includes coins, manuscripts, stones, minerals, ceramics, glass, mosaic plates and ancient bones, seashells and human, animal and plant remains, whose history ranges from about 1.5 million years BC to about 1750 AD, according to the definitions contained in the Jordanian Antiquities Law.  The memorandum also stresses the need to return Jordanian artifacts that was confiscated in the United States of America to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and it is the responsibility of Jordan, and to implement the terms of this memorandum, to exert all efforts aimed at taking steps consistent with the UNESCO Convention of 1970, relating to measures to ban and prevent import, export and transfer Illegal ownership of cultural property, in order to protect Jordan’s cultural heritage, provided that the United States of America provides technical assistance in this area.  This memorandum also aims to encourage the exchange of archaeological materials for scientific, cultural and educational purposes and to hold exhibitions of Jordanian artifacts and heritage in the United States of America with the aim of increasing awareness of the Jordanian civilizational and cultural heritage.

The idea of holding an agreement to protect the Jordanian cultural heritage from smuggling had begun on the margins of the meeting of the second ministerial conference entitled “Heritage under Threat” which was held in Amman on September 8, 2016, and was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Affairs, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Middle East Institute and the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), where the cultural section of the Embassy of the United States of America in Amman expressed the desire of the United States of America to conclude a bilateral agreement with the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan represented by the Department of Antiquities, with the aim of protecting Jordanian cultural heritage from smuggling.  Accordingly, many meetings were held with specialists from the US State Department, the US embassy, and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Antiquities, during which the broad lines were agreed upon to prepare a memorandum of understanding on preventing the import of Jordanian artifacts and recovering the artifacts from the United States and returning them to Jordan.  Workshops, lectures, and visits were organized for experts from the United States of America to introduce international agreements on preventing the trafficking of antiquities and protecting cultural heritage.