The Temple of Baal in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, destroyed by ISIS. Photo: Sandra Auger / Reuters.

Germany Creates Database to Help Prevent Looting of Cultural Property

The German government has created an internet portal to support the country’s Cultural Property Protection Law, according to Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper. The law, which came into effect in 2016, was enacted to protect German national heritage and put an end to the illegal trafficking of looted art and antiquities. The portal offers information on artists, museums, archives, and cultural property regulations for collectors. There is also material on cultural heritage regulations from sixty other countries, including Egypt, China, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Dealers say German law protecting cultural property is made up severe regulations that are perhaps the toughest in the world. Any antiquity available for purchase in Germany requires an export license from the object’s country of origin. The law also mandates that exporters of cultural goods beyond a certain age and value need to have an export license from one of Germany’s sixteen states. Monika Grütters, Germany’s culture minister, says the law is one of her most significant achievements, especially in light of the ancient sites being looted and destroyed by terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

The new portal is accessible here. English and French versions of the site are in the works.