National Human Remains Guidelines in England
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National Human Remains Guidelines in England and the Educational use of Archaeological Human Remains. Simon Mays English Heritage. The Guidelines DCMS EH\C-of-E BABAO.

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National Human Remains Guidelines in Englandand the Educational use of Archaeological Human Remains

Simon Mays

English Heritage


The guidelines dcms eh c of e babao
The Guidelines DCMS EH\C-of-E BABAO


Educational value of human remains is often not emphasised in guidelines on archaeological human remains

  • Ethical debates in England & elsewhere mainly framed in terms of research versus reburial

  • EH / CofE policy of use of partially or fully redundant churches to store remains


Do we need to use real bones for university teaching
Do we need to use real bones for university teaching? in guidelines on archaeological human remains

  • DCMS, EH\C-of-E & BABAO guidelines say yes!

  • Models / casts:

  • Do not adequately reproduce anatomical detail

  • Do not reproduce archaeological reality

  • Do not encompass range of natural and pathological variability


Should we use real bones for handling sessions at public events
Should we use real bones for handling sessions at public events?

  • Why would we need to?

  • DCMS guideline: emphasises risks involved

  • EH/C-of-E guideline: models / casts may be preferable

  • Some organisations do use real bones & report no problems



Ethical issues in the use of human remains for teaching
Ethical issues in the use of human remains for teaching collection

  • Knowledge-based ethics: the preservation of the information content of a collection

    Actions: obligate behaviours that ensure the integrity of a collection

  • Respect for human remains:

    What does respect mean in practical terms?

    Actions: Only use remains for their intended purpose; refrain from actions that are not consistent with this


Destructive sampling of human remains in student projects how can it be justified
Destructive sampling of human remains in student projects: how can it be justified?

  • Imperative of preservation of collections vs imperative toward gaining new knowledge from them

  • Likelihood of useful knowledge being generated that could not be gained in another way

  • Educational value to the student


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