tDAR digital antiquity


The Antiquities Act: Historical background and Continuing Relevance

One hundred eleven years ago last month, President Theodore Roosevelt signed legislation that enacted the Antiquities Act of 1906.  Section 2 of the statute provides presidents with the authority to designate public lands of special archaeological, cultural, historical, or natural significance as National Monuments.  Such action provides special management and protection for cultural and natural resources within the area designated.

 

Before he left office, President Obama made a series of such designations that are being challenged, as are some of the designations made by Presidents Bush and Clinton.  The wide range of political philosophy among these three recent presidents indicates the historically broad appeal and use of the National Monument designation authority by presidents since the Antiquities Act became law over a century ago.

 

The Department of the Interior is seeking comments concerning possible recommendations that the Secretary may make regarding Presidential action, legislative proposals, or other actions regarding Act.  Comments on this topic are being sought, but must be made before 10 July.  For those who wish to make a comment, you can find the page here.

 

The Antiquities Act is an important United States law, not only for the National Monuments designation authority, but for other historical and contemporary matters as well.  For those interested in digging deeper into the law, its use by Roosevelt and subsequent US presidents to preserve important cultural and natural resources, and its importance to the historical development of archaeology from information available in a tDAR collection on these and other related topics.

 

The tDAR collection includes documents related to the history and use of the Antiquities Act of 1906.  The statute laid the foundation for archaeological preservation, conservation and historic preservation laws passed through the 20th century.  It remains an important statute into the 21st century.


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America