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  Public Archeology in the United States—A Timeline

Timeline 1906-1929

In 1906, citizens concerned about protecting archeological areas on federal and Indian lands were gratified by the passage of the Antiquities Act. This statute recognized that archeological sites on U.S. public lands are special and important resources and their historic, scientific, commemorative, and cultural values must be preserved for present and future generations of Americans. A new era began with the passage of the Antiquities Act. Public awareness about archeology increased, as did the involvement of public agencies and the establishment of preservation policies. National Monuments commemorating and preserving archeological sites were created throughout the U.S. Support for scientific methods in archeology grew and professionalism in the field of American archeology developed. The National Park Service (NPS) was established in 1916 to care for outstanding cultural and natural resources. The NPS's responsibilities included managing historical and archeological areas in the U.S. as well as active engagement in site preservation. Concerns about site destruction and the need for public support to preserve sites continued through this period.

Timeline 1906-1929

  • 1906
    • The Antiquities Act of 1906

      The Antiquities Act of 1906

      In January, Representative Lacey of Iowa introduces a new bill. Following hearings and debate, the Antiquities Act is enacted on June 8. This statute decrees Presidential authority to establish National Monuments and requires permits to be approved before archeological investigations can be undertaken on federal land.
    • Congress establishes Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado to protect and interpret the major pueblo ruins located there.
    • President Theodore Roosevelt proclaims Devils Tower in Wyoming, El Morro in New Mexico, and Montezuma Castle in Arizona as National Monuments. These monuments contain significant archeological and ethnographic sites.
    • Congress charters the Archeological Institute of America.
  • 1907
    • Cliff dweller pottery from Mesa Verde National Park

      Cliff dweller pottery from Mesa Verde National Park

      Chaco Canyon and Gila Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico and Tonto in Arizona, all with significant archeological sites, are proclaimed National Monuments.
    • One of the first permits issued under the Antiquities Act of 1906, to survey public land in Utah, is granted to the AIA, represented by Edgar L. Hewett, Director of American Archaeology for the AIA.
  • 1908
    • Tumacacori and the Grand Canyon (which becomes a National Park in 1919) are proclaimed National Monuments in Arizona.
  • 1909
  • 1910
  • 1912-1914
    • A. V. Kidder at Pecos, 1916

      A. V. Kidder at Pecos, 1916

      Nels C. Nelson uses careful recording and analysis of stratigraphy in the Galisteo Basin, New Mexico, to demonstrate chronological relationships among pottery styles used prehistorically in the Rio Grande area.
  • 1915
    • Walnut Canyon, encompassing extensive archeological sites in Arizona, becomes a National Monument.
    • A. V. Kidder begins to conduct stratigraphic excavations at Pecos.
  • 1916
    • Bandelier National Monument, named for Adolph F.A. Bandelier, a Swiss-American scholar who carried out extensive archeological surveys of the region's prehistoric sites, is established near Los Alamos, New Mexico.
    • NPS Arrowhead

      NPS Arrowhead

      National Park Service (NPS) is created within the DOI by passage of the Organic Act to "promote and regulate the use of …national parks, monuments, and reservations …to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to …leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."
    • Alfred Kroeber surface collects Zuni artifacts and practices seriation and the direct historical approach. He hypothesizes a decrease in the use of redwares and an increase in the use of black-on-white ceramics over time.
    • Sixteen Antiquities Act permits are granted. This is the greatest number of permits granted in one year under the Act.
  • 1917
    • Horace Albright and Stephen Mather

      Horace Albright and Stephen Mather, the first two Directors of the NPS

      Stephen T. Mather is named the 1st Director of the newly formed National Park Service.
    • Leslie Speir combines seriation and the direct historical approach to establish a chronology for the surface collections from Zuni. His findings are published in An Outline for a Chronology of Zuni Ruins.
  • 1919
    • Lafayette National Park (renamed Acadia in 1929) becomes the first and only National Park east of the Mississippi and remains so throughout the 1920's.
    • The National Parks Association is founded in Washington, D.C.
  • 1924
    • Publication of Kidder's Introduction to Southwestern Archaeology, "the first effort to synthesize what was known of regional prehistory at the time."
  • 1925
  • 1926
    • Jesse Nusbaum and Navajo Indians at Mesa Verde

      Jesse Nusbaum and Navajo Indians at Mesa Verde

      John D. Rockefeller funds the beginning of the restoration of Williamsburg, Virginia.
  • 1927
    • Jesse Nusbaum, Superintendent of Mesa Verde National Park, is appointed Department Archeologist for the DOI, a newly created position.
    • A. V. Kidder organizes the first Pecos Conference.
  • 1929
    • Tree-ring dating is definitively tied to the modern calendar by A. E. Douglass.
    • Horace M. Albright is appointed the 2nd Director of the National Park Service.

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