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Almost daily the world media report some new discovery of important human remains, or some new claim to the return of existing remains, or some extraordinary scientific or historical advance achieved through studying human remains or the objects buried with them.
This topical collection of essays examines such questions as: the extent to which holding institutions should disclose the presence and identity of human remains in their collections; the implications of the discovery and movement of deceased monarchs and other persons of importance; the impact of the ECHR and national legislation on the holding and treatment of human remains; ecclesiastical attitudes; and the obligations of those involved in construction projects where human remains are discovered.
The authors include lawyers, museum staff, academics and others, and the chapters discuss how they interpret aspects of law, policy and ethics when creating displays, curating collections and undertaking research. They explore what is meant by respect for human remains, and how we demonstrate it.
They examine how we treat some remains differently to others – recent dead vs ancient dead, or different categories of people – why this is, and where the boundaries are. The different uses to which remains are put (exhibition, teaching and scientific research) are also covered, and the reasons for why museums and galleries take the varied approaches they do are studied.
Essential reading for anyone involved in the discovery, moving, display or study of human remains, and a basis for further philosophical and regilious debate on the treatment of human remains.