Archaeological Ethics and the Treatement of the Dead. Death and Human Emotion. How do humans respond to death?. We seem to take it very seriously…. …and we have for a very long time. Shanidar Cave (Israel) Neanderthal Burial, 60,000 years ago.
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How do humans respond to death?
We seem to take it very seriously…
Shanidar Cave (Israel) Neanderthal Burial, 60,000 years ago
Does it matter who they were or when they died?
Egyptian Mummies, 3000 BCE
Tollund “Bog Man, Denmark, 5 BCE
Wupu Cemetery Mummy, China, 1000 BCE
John Hartnell’s marker and remains
Guanajuato , Mexico–1800s
Sailors from the Franklin Expedition–1845
Wounded Knee Massacre, 1890
Kurd Boy, chemical weapon victim, Iraq, 1980s
Mass Graves of Holocaust Victims, 1945, Europe
Images of the Black Death, Europe, AD 1400-1700
Shakespeare’s Curse on Anyone Who Moves His Bones
Good frend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To digg the dust encloased heare:
Bleste be the man tht spares thes stones,
And curst be he tht moves my bones.
Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, and was buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church April 25, at Stratford-upon-Avon. No one has disturbed his remains since his burial.
The United States budgets $21,000,000 annually to recover remains of war dead from all over the world.
New York City
Reinterment was on October 4, 2003
WTC Archaeology: What We Saw, What We Learned, and What We Did about it. 2002 Richard A. Gould, The SAA Archaeological Record 2(5):11-17
However, many American Indian people ask why their dead don’t receive equal treatment.
If we are so concerned with the treatment of our own dead, shouldn’t we care about the dead of others?
In recent years archaeologists and physical anthropologists have had to answer exactly that question…
…especially from Indigenous peoples such as Native Americans who claim that the remains of their ancestors are often the target of study.
They also claim that these remains sit on shelves in museums and laboratories while the remains of the archaeologists’ ancestors are rarely studied and quickly reburied.
What can we tell about the people of the past by looking at their dead?
Many scientists believe that we need to keep skeletons for long term study.
Why? There will always be new techniques for looking at remains. If bones are returned, those techniques can’t be used.
They claim it’s like burying the past or burning books.
Let’s look at one case…
Several state laws passed to protect American Indian dead.
The public tended to support Indian concerns.
1985 Peacekeeper Conference
A Lakota editorial about Dickson Mounds in Illinois
The first national repatriation law
Opened September 2005
Law, Regulations, and Guidance
A number of resources are available to assist museums, agencies, and Native American communities in carrying out NAGPRA. For additional information regarding the specialized terms used in NAGPRA, see the NAGPRA Glossary.
Law and Regulations
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, 25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq. [Nov. 16, 1990] PDF or Text
Final Regulations, 43 CFR 10 (includes preamble) [Dec. 04, 1995] PDF or Text
43 CFR 10 - Updated (Full Text, excluding preamble, of 43 CFR 10 as amended January 13, 1997; August 1, 1997; and May 5, 2003; and published in the Code of Federal Regulations October 1, 2003) [Oct. 01, 2003] PDF or Text
Overview of NAGPRA Civil Penalties Procedures PDForText
Reserved sections of the NAGPRA regulations
For a decent summary: http://www.indian-affairs.org/programs/aaia_repatriation_nagpra.htm
David Hurst Thomas
The Ancient One
The debate continues…
SYMPOSIUM NAGPRA IN 20/20 VISION: REVIEWING 20 YEARS OF REPATRIATION AND LOOKING AHEAD TO THE NEXT 20
(Sponsored by Committee on Native American Relations)
Room: 103 (AC)
Time: 8:00 AM–10:00 AM
Organizer and Chair: Dorothy Lippert
8:00 Joe Watkins—‘Naturalizing’ the Native, Appropriating the Ancestors: Kennewick and an Unintended Impact of Repatriation
8:15 Kerry Thompson—Who is, or Was, Native American?: The Role of Archaeology in American Indian Identity
8:30 Sonya Atalay—Grandmothers and Grandfathers|Culturally Unidentifiable:
NAGPRA and The Power of Naming
8:45 Elisabeth Cutright-Smith, Wendi Field Murray and KacyHollenback—Twenty
Years Later: A Quantitative Assessment of NAGPRA\'s Impacts on American
9:00 Michael Wilcox—Genes and Cultural Identity: Boundaries, Boundary Makers and
the Cultural Mythology of DNA
9:15 Michelle Schohn—Another Step Removed: How NAGPRA further Disenfranchised
9:30 Dorothy Lippert—Memory and Longing in the Practice of Repatriation
9:45 Larry Zimmerman—Discussant
The dispute over culturally unidentifiable human remains persists.