A Proposal to Modernize the American Antiquities Act

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Science  08 Dec 1978:
Vol. 202, Issue 4372, pp. 1055-1059
DOI: 10.1126/science.202.4372.1055


The Antiquities Act of 1906, which has provided the legal basis for protecting the U.S.'s prehistoric and historic heritage, is no longer adequate. Artifact hunters and collectors have descended on national forests and U.S. parks in ever-increasing numbers. The drafters of the 1906 act could not have anticipated the lucrative market in prehistoric artifacts in the 1970's. The act has come under attack in the courts as being unconstitutionally vague. In light of the recent criminal prosecutions under the Antiquities Act and the constitutional challenges, reviewed in this article, the authors propose a new Antiquities Act which expands the scope of the act to include those who would deal in artifacts taken unlawfully from federal lands and increases the criminal penalties for a violation of the act.