Antiquities Act (1906)

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  • President Theodore Roosevelt approved the Antiquities Act on June 8, 1906, to provide legal protection of historic artifacts and geologically or culturally significant sites on federal lands. That legislation was devised when archaeologists, anthropologists, and members of Congress expressed concern that vandals destroyed structures and thieves stole objects created by prehistoric Native Americans. The Antiquities Act specified monetary and imprisonment penalties for people excavating or stealing artifacts and damaging ancient sites. The law outlined measures to safeguard these places and artifacts in addition to threatened natural landmarks.

    In the late nineteenth century, some artifact collectors identified ancient ruins in the southwestern United States as sources of ancient objects, such as clay pottery, that they could add to their private collections or sell for profit to other ...

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