Is the only way to describe a proposal Monika Grütters, Germany's Commissioner for Culture, has made at the behest of archaeologists with an axe to grind against collectors and cultural bureaucrats of failed states and/or dictatorships like Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq and Syria.
According to the report,
Ms. Grütters outlined plans for a new law that would require documented provenance for any object entering or leaving Germany, long among the laxest of regulators of the art market. Among other measures, dealers would be required to show a valid export permit from the source of the piece’s origins when entering Germany.
It's unclear how Grütters believes German dealers and collectors are going to come up with documentation that simply does not exist for artifacts that have been traded legally for generations without such paperwork.
Meanwhile, there was apparently no discussion about simple steps archaeologists can take that will discourage looting like hiring site guards and paying local diggers a living wage.
Ethical archaeologists are already taking similar steps. So why not make them a legal requirement for every archaeologist excavating abroad? It's always better to tackle any problem at the source.
And, if the point of Grütters' proposals is to ensure Germans appear ethical to the world, shouldn't that start with archaeologists, who after all, have direct contact with the people of source countries?