ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 44 (2007) 289-290
ASP Resolution Concerning the Illicit
Trade in Papyri'
The American Society of Papyrologists (ASP) was founded over forty
years ago "to assist international collaboration in the field of papyrology, and
to contribute to the progress of this science by the organization of international
congresses, by the publication or revision of works of reference, or of other
subsidia essential to papyrology, and by any other means which are judged
useful:'2 In the years since, the Society has promoted and supported the cause
of papyrology worldwide and especially in North America, not only through its
publications and the International Congress of Papyrology, but also through its
Summer Seminars and Annual Meeting; it has worked diligently towards the
"educational purposes" for which it was organized.3 Increasingly, the ASP has
come to appreciate that this educational mission extends beyond papyrology
in its narrowest sense (the decipherment and study of ancient texts written on
papyrus, pottery, wood, and other media) to include advocacy for the body of
ancient material that is the raison d'dtre for the discipline, a development that
has precedent, of course, in the custodial and curatorial roles that papyrologists have long performed. Thus the Society recognizes that papyri and other
inscribed objects are part of the archaeological record and that their historical
value is diminished significantly when they have been stripped from their original contexts in the course of illicit and undocumented excavations; and that
the looting of archaeological sites destroys the original contexts of all forms
of material culture and permanently diminishes our ability to reconstruct and
understand the past. Since the trade in papyri and other ancient objects encourages such looting and, therefore, the destruction of the archaeological
record, and because it often involves the removal and commercial exploitation
of cultural heritage, the ASP resolves that:
(1) Effective 1 August 2007, its membership shall not participate directly
in the buying or selling of papyri or other archaeological objects that have
been excavated illegally or exported from their country of origin after 24 April
1972, the date upon which the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of
For the purposes of this document, the Society's "membership" consists of its general, student, spouse, and life members.
2 ASP Constitution 1.1.
3 See ASP Constitution 1.2.