NPS website lists Federal laws pertaining to archaeology

Submitted by Sammy Smith (


The National Park Service, which is administered by the Department of the Interior, has gathered together an online listing of Federal laws pertaining to archaeology. As they note:

The laws and regulations that govern the preservation of the nation’s cultural heritage developed over the course of the 20th century, beginning with the protection of cultural sites on federal lands. Today, many aspects of the nation’s cultural heritage are recognized, protected, and interpreted in national parks, other public lands, and in communities. Many of these laws are broadly applicable—the Antiquities Act and the National Historic Preservation Act—while others are specific to particular lands or resource types.

Perhaps most historically important of these laws is the Antiquities Act of 1906, which has been amended once. Section 1 states:

Any person who shall appropriate, excavate, injure, or destroy any historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity, situated on lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States, without the permis- sion of the Secretary of the Department of the Government having jurisdiction over the lands on which said antiquities are situated, shall, upon conviction, be fined in a sum of not more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned for a period of not more than ninety days, or shall suffer both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.

Another of my personal favorites is Executive Order 11593, signed by Richard M. Nixon in 1971. Section 1 begins:

The Federal Government shall provide leadership in preserving, restoring, and maintaining the historic and cultural environment of the Nation.

I found a few of the links to be broken, but this list is a good start for anyone interested in Federal laws, policies, and programs that relate to archaeology. Click here to go to the NPS page listing.