In 1988, Jordan passed a law to protect its cultural heritage. Important requirements such as the regulation of ownership, registration of antiquities and a trade ban are still valid today.

What is considered cultural property in Jordan?

The cultural property includes objects of paleontological, pre- and early historical, numismatic interest, manuscripts, autographs, letters, incunabula, books, prints, engravings and matrices, maps, scores, photographs, film strips, sound and image carriers as well as immovable objects. Some objects are under special protection, for example works of art created more than 70 years ago by artists who are no longer alive, photos and films older than 25 years, as well as over 75-year-old means of transport and over 50-year-old goods, equipment and instruments of historical, scientific or technical interest.

What are the export regulations?

For cultural property created before 1750, there is a general export ban, as well as a trade ban. Exceptions are possible for loans or the exchange of property with museums and scientific or archaeological institutions. The Antiquities Department may conclude loan agreements with academic institutions and museums, but not with individuals.

What sanctions are there?

There are prison sentences of one to three years and fines of 3,000 Jordanian dinars or more for trafficking, smuggling or damaging antiquities, making copies and selling imitations as originals.

Chronology of cultural property protection laws

  • 1869
    Edict of Safiet Pasha, Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
    Edict on the collection of antiquities in Constantinople and the introduction of an export ban
  • 1874
    Ottoman Antiquities Law
    Regulierung der Verbringung von ausgegrabenen Antiken und der Fundteilung
  • 1884
    Ottoman Antiquities Law
    Regulierung des Antikenhandels; Ausgrabungen und Grabungslizenzen müssen beantragt werden
  • 1929
    Antiquities Regulation No. 51 (AO 1929), 1930: Antiquities Regulations, Article 4 (AR 1930)
    Obligations of the Antiquities Authority; introduction of export licenses
  • 1953
    Antiquities Regulation No. 33
    Organization of archaeological areas; regulations and licenses for excavations and trade in antiquities
  • 1957
    The Hague Convention of 1954
    Protection of the cultural property of countries in the event of armed conflicts
  • 1974
    UNESCO 1970 Convention
    Means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property
  • 1975
    Excavation Guidelines
    Tightening regulations on excavations
  • 1988
    Act No. 21 with Amendments to Act No. 23 of 2004
    Regulation of ownership and registration of movable antiquities; prohibition of trade; establishment of a national museum
  • 1991
    Requirements for excavations under Antiquities Law No. 21 of 1988
    Additional regulation of excavations
  • 2009
    Hague Convention, Second Protocol of 1999
    Clarification and extension of the 1954 Hague Convention
  • 2016
    Guidelines for Archaeological Projects in Jordan based on the provisions of Antiquities Law No. 21 of 1988
    Updated conditions for the implementation of archaeological projects in Jordan