Conflicts Over the Excavation, Retention and Display of Human Remains: An Issue Resolved?

  • Liz White


For several decades, human remains have been at the centre of a heated debate that focuses upon whether or not it is ethical to disturb, retain, study and display the dead. Despite such a lengthy period of discussion, it has not been possible to give a definitive answer to that question. Whilst some people believe the dead should simply remain undisturbed, others believe that the scientific value of human remains is paramount, and there is a wide range of viewpoints in-between. The issue of dealing with human remains in archaeology and in museums is a complex one, and it is clear that contextual information is crucial in making decisions regarding their fate. The aim of this chapter is to provide context as to the origins and continuation of an emotive issue that has spanned decades, with specific emphasis on museums in England, and to discuss whether concerns relating to the treatment of human remains in archaeology and in museums are in fact any closer to being resolved.


Human remains Ethics Reburial Archaeology Museums Guidance for the Care of Human Remains in Museums 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liz White
    • 1
  1. 1.CIE Education Group (China and UK)YantaiChina

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