Antiquities Act Law and Legal Definition

The Antiquities Act is a U.S. federal law enacted in 1906. It is officially known as ‘An Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities.’ The provisions of the Act are codified at 16 USCS 431–433.

Pursuant to the Act, any person who appropriates, excavates, injures, or destroys any historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity, situated on lands owned or controlled by the U.S. government of the United States, without the permission 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.

Additionally, the Act authorizes the U.S. President to restrict the use of particular public land owned by the federal government. The President can, by Public Proclamation, declare certain historic landmarks, prehistoric structures, or other structures of scientific importance that are situated on U.S. government lands as national monuments.