A National Cultural Treasure, or NCT, is “a unique object found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is significant to this country and nation” (Section 3 of Presidential Decree No. 374). These highly-valued cultural properties are indispensable in the understanding of history and culture of the Philippines. They are to be preserved and protected by the state through the National Museum of the Philippines by law, through Republic Act (RA) No. 4846 (The Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act) as amended by P.D. 374, RA No. 8492 (National Museum Act of 1998), RA No. 10066 (National Cultural Heritage Act of 2010), and RA No. 11333 (National Museum of the Philippines Act of 2019).
To be considered as NCTs, cultural properties have to qualify as: 1) historically significant because of their association with prehistoric events and past industries that are the foundation of the Filipino culture, 2) aesthetically significant for their craftsmanship, mode, technical excellence, exquisiteness, expression of skill and quality of design and execution, 3) having research significance and outstanding scientific value because they are provenanced and recovered from a documented context, or 4) as representing aspects of 50,000 years of Philippine prehistory and early history.
The NCT Collection of the Archaeology Division is composed of artifacts of various materials, representing human ingenuity and craftmanship from the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) Period until the relatively recent times. While some are currently exhibited in the different galleries of the National Museum of Anthropology, the rest are housed along with other valuable artifacts in the National Archaeological Repository.