Implementing the Antiquities Act: A Survey Of Archaeological Permits 1906-925

Publication: National Center for Cultural Resources

Author: Kathleen D. Browning

Date of Publication: 2003

PDF File: Implementing-the-Antiquities-Act.pdf


Public archeology in the United States received a long-sought and hard won legislative boost for antiquities protection in 1906. On June 8, 1906, a federal law, an Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities (16 U. S. C. 431-433) was signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt after several arduous decades of dedicated attention to the issue. Better known as the Antiquities Act, its enactment responded to a growing concern over the issues of looting and vandalism of American archeological resources. Proponents of the Act’s passage intended to provide appropriate mechanisms to halt the plundering of antiquities and destruction of archeological sites, which was pronounced in the southwestern United States. Additionally, supporters envisioned a statute to shelter irreplaceable archeological deposits, ancient architectural ruins, and natural resources from destruction or pillage by homesteaders, curious tourists, and pothunters increasingly known to frequent the American West.