Numismatic and History Discussions > History and Archeology

Latest MOU - with the Taliban Government!

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It hard to believe but the the latest insanity of the US Department of Homeland Security and the US State Department:

The restriction includes of all things Common Roman Imperial coins found in archaeological contexts in Afghanistan were struck in silver and
bronze. Approximate date: 1st century B.C.-4th century A.D. ???

Following comment courtesy of Alan Walker of Nomos ...

There will be more highlights next time, but now it seems a good idea to let you all know about the latest action taken by the US State Department, with the support of a number of scholars, including numismatists, in order to safe guard the world's cultural heritage.

Somewhat astoundingly, many scholars and archaeologists have joined with the US Department of Homeland Security and the US State Department in pushing through a MOU (= Memorandum of Understanding) with the TALIBAN Government of Afghanistan to protect Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage:  the MOU came into force on 18 February, but was only published on the 22nd, almost exactly six months after the US completely withdrew from Afghanistan! In other words, soon, thanks to agencies of the US Government, all sorts of items will be confiscated on entry into the USA and then returned to the TALIBAN Government of Afghanistan for preservation. No doubt, now that Afghan women are no longer allowed to be educated, travel, drive, think for themselves, work in offices, dress in anything other than a sack with eyeholes, etc., etc., but are allowed and encouraged to marry at the age of 10, perhaps the now liberal and modern Taliban government will give these items to those women so that they can play with them - if they have some free time left from cooking, cleaning, having babies, or serving male relatives as is their proper place in life. And this rule was enacted by two agencies of the US Government that are filled with what we always assumed were bright, intelligent, energetic, competent, take-charge, stand-on-their-own-two-feet, feminist women! In reality, do they all sit by the door so that they can be seen but not heard, while policy is made by "the guys"?

Worse than this is what is actually in the MOU with the Taliban/Afghanistan (here is the link so that you  can read it in its entirety; but let's just look at some of the sections on coins (C. Metal, 5. Coins, sections a. - r.):

Coins, §b. "During the reign of Darius I, gold staters and silver sigloi were produced in Bactria and Gandhara. Approximate date: 586-550 B.C." Could this be some other Darius than the one we know (born 550, reigned 522-486)? And I had always thought that Persian gold Darics and silver Sigloi were first minted in Sardes and never in the East, but I suppose the scholars advising the State Department (or the Taliban?) know better.

Coins, §f. "Gold staters and silver tetradrachms were produced locally after Alexander the Great conquered the region. Approximate date: 327-323 B.C." What are these supposed to be????? They are not in Price, nor in anything else I can check. But those scholars know better ... I guess. Perhaps they have been published privately?

Coins, §h. "Common Roman Imperial coins found in archaeological contexts in Afghanistan were struck in silver and bronze. Approximate date: 1st century B.C.-4th century A.D."

Think about this for a minute or two ... could it be that from now on any late Roman Republican or Imperial coin, from the Social Wars to Theodosius I and without a known find spot, is going to be stopped going into the United States because it might have been found in AFGHANISTAN? Now it is true that at certain times Roman silver and gold coins did reach southern India, often in considerable numbers (coins of Augustus, Tiberius and the Severans, for example); and some also reached China (primarily earlier Byzantine solidi); so the occasional Roman coin was bound to have reached the area of Afghanistan - but in numbers sufficient to justify a blanket ban on their import into the USA? So I reached out to a scholar knowledgeable about  Roman coins, heritage concerns and the pernicious evils of coin collecting, Dr. Étan Snikle. Much to my delight he actually agreed to talk to me, since in his view, and in that of many of his fellow AIA members, anyone involved in the coin trade (other than that in NCLT proof sets) should be sent to re-education camps in Kashgar (i.e., 10 days to go there, 10 years to get back). I told him that to my knowledge, Roman coins simply weren't found in Afghanistan, and, thus, banning Roman coins from entering the USA because they might have been found there made no sense. Well, it looks like I'm wrong! Dr. S. told me, in his usual smilingly condescending way,  that Roman coins were commonly used in ancient Afghanistan, especially in the major cities. It seems, so he said, that the local people greatly preferred Roman coins in all denominations for their daily needs, rather than the Kushan, Kushano-Sassanian and similar pieces one would have thought they would have used. In fact, for trade reasons, so he said, the Roman authorities authorised the mint in Rome to produce special issues for use in the Balkh area (including, so he said, some issues of Nerva, for example). Thus, very considerable numbers of Roman coins used to be found in Afghan museums!  I was astonished and asked why they had never been published. So he said that both local Afghan and foreign scholars had wanted to catalogue them but, alas, always had other things to do, so when the Taliban first took over in the years prior to 11 September 2001, they melted them all down! So now only serious scholars, among them Dr. S., know of their existence. And he went further, saying that large numbers of Roman coins now on the international market, and thought to have been found in the Balkans, Turkey or the Levant, were actually found in Afghanistan (!) and brought out by wily transporters through Iran and then on into Turkey, whence they went out to Munich, where they were then said to have been found in Cappadocia! Isn't this amazing? Who would have thought it possible? So now we know that it is thanks to scholars like Dr. S. that the US Government passed a MOU with the Taliban! No doubt he, and others like him, will do their best to support the proposed new MOU with the Taliban's chief supporter, Pakistan. We will soon see.

Ron C2:
Well that's interesting.  I wonder if the State Dept thought to ask whether the Taliban would melt these coins into bullion or not whenever confiscated?  Sounds like a real possibility.

I live in Canada, and to the best of my knowledge, we are not signing MOUJs with that regime - at least not yet.


--- Quote from: Ron C2 on April 25, 2022, 08:46:06 pm ---I wonder if the State Dept thought to ask whether the Taliban would melt these coins into bullion or not whenever confiscated?  Sounds like a real possibility.

--- End quote ---


I didn't even think of that, but you may be right.

In the recent past, ISIS certainly didn't hesitate to destroy antiquities. For example, they destroyed man-faced bulls that were thousands of years old.

In the past, the Taliban destroyed ancient statues that were thousands of years old.


Ron C2:
I suspect the Taliban would consider MANY roman coins depicting pagan deities and ruler busts as idolatry or blasphemy and would consider them incompatible with their extreme religious dogma.

Cultural Heritage Protection Taliban Style (March 2001) ....

Sadly the evidence suggests that nothing has changed.


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