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Archaeological Ethics and the Treatement of the Dead.

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Presentation on theme: "Archaeological Ethics and the Treatement of the Dead."— Presentation transcript:

1 Archaeological Ethics and the Treatement of the Dead

2 Death and Human Emotion How do humans respond to death? We seem to take it very seriously…

3 …and we have for a very long time. Shanidar Cave (Israel) Neanderthal Burial, 60,000 years ago

4 Does it matter who they were or when they died? Emotionally, how do you respond to these images?

5 Whether they are ancient … Tollund “Bog Man, Denmark, 5 BCE Wupu Cemetery Mummy, China, 1000 BCE Egyptian Mummies, 3000 BCE

6 Guanajuato, Mexico–1800s Sailors from the Franklin Expedition–1845 …or modern? William Braine John Torrington John Hartnell’s marker and remains

7 Young? Or Old?

8 Wounded Knee Massacre, 1890 Does it matter more if they were innocent victims?

9 Mass Graves of Holocaust Victims, 1945, Europe Kurd Boy, chemical weapon victim, Iraq, 1980s And died in large numbers ? Or small?

10 Sometimes we laugh at death…

11 …or use it for protest.

12 Mostly, we seem to take it very seriously… Images of the Black Death, Europe, AD

13 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. …as did William Shakespeare!

14 How seriously? The United States budgets $21,000,000 annually to recover remains of war dead from all over the world.

15 The African Burial Ground New York City Reinterment was on October 4, 2003

16 WTC Archaeology: What We Saw, What We Learned, and What We Did about it Richard A. Gould, The SAA Archaeological Record 2(5):11-17 Archaeologists worked at the World Trade Center, 2002

17 If we are so concerned with the treatment of our own dead, shouldn’t we care about the dead of others? However, many American Indian people ask why their dead don’t receive equal treatment.

18 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.

19 Why is studying remains important? What can we tell about the people of the past by looking at their dead? Physical attributes, such as size Population patterns (demography) Nutrition (what they ate and its impact on their lives) Patterns of diseases and trauma Burial practices/social status (grave goods, mounds)

20 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…

21 The difficult course toward ethical treatment of the dead Several state laws passed to protect American Indian dead. The public tended to support Indian concerns.

22 The 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act had some impact 1985 Peacekeeper Conference

23 The issue was heated. A Lakota editorial about Dickson Mounds in Illinois

24 It went international.

25 WAC Inter-Congress, 1989

26 The Vermillion Accord on Human Remains The Vermillion Accord was adopted in 1989 at the South Dakota WAC Inter-Congress. Respect for the mortal remains of the dead shall be accorded to all, irrespective of origin, race, religion, nationality, custom and tradition. Respect for the wishes of the dead concerning disposition shall be accorded whenever possible, reasonable and lawful, when they are known or can be reasonably inferred. Respect for the wishes of the local community and of relatives or guardians of the dead shall be accorded whenever possible, reasonable and lawful. Respect for the scientific research value of skeletal, mummified and other human remains (including fossil hominids) shall be accorded when such value is demonstrated to exist. Agreement on the disposition of fossil, skeletal, mummified and other remains shall be reached by negotiation on the basis of mutual respect for the legitimate concerns of communities for the proper disposition of their ancestors, as well as the legitimate concerns of science and education. The express recognition that the concerns of various ethnic groups, as well as those of science are legitimate and to be respected, will permit acceptable agreements to be reached and honoured.

27 A reburial at Wounded Knee, SD followed the meeting.

28 The National Museum of the American Indian Act of 1989 The first national repatriation law

29 The National Museum of the American Indian Opened September 2005

30 The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 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.NAGPRA Glossary Law and Regulations Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, 25 U.S.C et seq. [Nov. 16, 1990] PDF or TextPDFText Final Regulations, 43 CFR 10 (includes preamble) [Dec. 04, 1995] PDF or TextPDFText 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 TextPDFText Overview of NAGPRA Civil Penalties Procedures PDF or TextPDFText Reserved sections of the NAGPRA regulations For a decent summary:

31 Archaeologists Have Been ChangingTheir Minds David Hurst Thomas

32 Kennewick Man The Ancient One The debate continues…

33 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 Participants: 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 Kacy Hollenback—Twenty Years Later: A Quantitative Assessment of NAGPRA's Impacts on American Archaeology 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 non-Federal Tribes 9:30 Dorothy Lippert—Memory and Longing in the Practice of Repatriation 9:45 Larry Zimmerman—Discussant What’s happening now? The dispute over culturally unidentifiable human remains persists.

34 Questions: Do the dead have rights? Can anyone “control” the past? Does the knowledge provided by science outweigh the rights of people who claim remains as ancestral? Are compromises possible?


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