Ethical Issues: Study & Display of Human Remains
Ethical Issues: Study & Display
of Human Remains
Main Points - Megan Hicks
Are these remains ancestors or specimens?
In Australia, it is a very sensitive issue due to the customs and values of the Indigenous. (No remains are to be displayed and even images, must have permission). Britain, however, allows it
Attitudes towards the death - most bodies have been kept for the purpose of study, they are seen as 'objects' rather than 'subjects' - dehumanising
The bodies have to be treated with the highest ethical standards due to the cultural response of many countries such as Italy
The issue is whether the display of skeletons or Fiorelli's plaster casts serve more as a ghoulish action figure to attract tourists rather than archaeological, scientific evidence.
Education and curiosity? - It does tend to come back to what Hicks refers to as the 'intention' of the exhibitors. Are they appealing to people's scientific interest or is it sensationalist?
Herculaneum is the pain, suffering and horror that they reflect as the people who are "frozen forever in time". Ross Gibson - these people "never asked to be found or displayed in such terminal distress
Gibson: Museums are "places where suffering and fatality are addressed in ways that are beneficial for individuals and communiities.
Bodies of Pompeii in dusty glass cabinets
The preservation techniques of Fiorelli have both made Pompeii, but they contribute to a lack of respect for the dead
Beneath the plaster casts are the remains of actual people, in their last, gasping moments before death
Some bodies have been taken away and replaced by replicas, too many of these displays remain due to the "tourist dollar"
One of the least respectful displays of human remains is that of the tableaux, a manufactured scene that is a hang over from the days of the Pompeii aristocratic 'grand tours'. Evident in the House of the Menander
Maiuri has been exposed by Estelle Lazer of manipulating bodies and even different parts of skeletons to create a scene for the tourists.
The remains have allowed archaeologists to understand the relationship between the volcanic and archaeological stratigraphy
Revealed about the diet
However, bones cannot be used to depict their every day life
Cause of Death