In 1942, the National Museum is opened in the capital, Beirut, to ensure the preservation of antiquities. Today it contains about 100,000 objects, some of which even date back to prehistoric times.

What is considered cultural property in Lebanon?

Until 1990, a relatively rigid concept was applied: Only objects produced before 1700 are considered cultural property. Only with the ratification of the UNESCO Convention is the definition of the concept of cultural property somewhat broader.

What are the export regulations?

There is an absolute ban on the export of antiquities. By Ministerial Decree No. 8 of 1993, the export of archaeological objects from Lebanon was completely prohibited. The background to this was primarily the civil war that lasted 13 years.

An export ban, which included a reservation to issue licenses, for other cultural property was inserted by way of the regulations from 2008. Since then, it has been forbidden to export any recognized or classified cultural property from Lebanon, unless there is a ministerial export license.

What sanctions are there?

Article 15 of Law No. 37 of 2008 entitles the competent minister to take possession of the cultural property in question or even to expropriate it from the owner (against payment of appropriate compensation) in order to protect against illegal exports. There are no specific offenses. According to criminal law, sanctions for any illegal trade in cultural property are between three and nine years in prison with a fine.

Chronology of cultural property protection laws

  • 1869
    Edict of Safiet Pasha, Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
    Edict on the collection of antiquities in Constantinople and the introduction of an export ban
  • 1874
    Ottoman Antiquities Law
    Regulierung der Verbringung von ausgegrabenen Antiken und der Fundteilung
  • 1884
    Ottoman Antiquities Law
    Regulierung des Antikenhandels; Ausgrabungen und Grabungslizenzen müssen beantragt werden
  • 1923
    – 1946
    Mandate for Lebanon and Syria, Antiquities Law of 1926
    The antiquities in Syria and Lebanon are under French administration; updating the Ottoman legislation on the protection and restoration of antiquities
  • 1933
    Regulation No. 166LR on the Regulation on Antiquities in Syria and Lebanon – with Amendments in 1934 and 1943
    Regulation of property relations and publications, excavations and trade; antiquities are recorded in an inventory list
  • 1960
    The Hague Convention of 1954
    Protection of the cultural property of countries in the event of armed conflict
  • 1992
    UNESCO 1970 Convention
    Means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property
  • 1993
    Ministerial Decree No. 8
    Amendment of export rules
  • 2008
    Law No. 37
    Export and import ban on cultural property