The British Museum holds approximately 6,000 human remains, the majority of which were recovered in the past century. Regarding the Dead addresses the British Museum's approach to the ethical issues surrounding the inclusion of human remains in the Museum's collection and presents solutions to the dilemmas relating to their curation, storage, access management and display.
The holding of human remains in museums has long been a matter of academic and public discourse. The issues surrounding the rightful ownership, proper care, research and display of human remains are strongly debated, both within the museums and heritage sector and in the media on an international scale. Using case studies from the British Museum, Regarding the Dead examines these issues and explains how the availability of human remains for study has many benefits. Human remains provide the most direct and insightful sources of information on different cultural approaches to death, burial practices and belief systems. Their study also helps to advance important research concerning the history of disease, changing epidemiological patterns, forensics and human biology. The book draws together diverse strands of research concerning human remains and reflects the great variety of challenges and discoveries associated with this work as well as the sensitivities involved.
About the Author
Daniel Antoine is responsible for the Museum's human remains collection. His areas of expertise include the anatomy of the human skeleton, ancient diseases and hard tissue biology.
J.D. Hill is Research Manager in the British Museum and specializes in the Iron Age. Contributors include curatorial experts drawn from the whole range of the British Museum's collection.
Table of Contents
Part One – Holding and Displaying Human Remains
Curating Human Remains in Museum Collections: Broader Considerations and a British Museum Perspective
Looking Death in the Face: Different Attitudes towards Bog Bodies and their Display with a Focus on Lindow Man
The Scientific Analysis of Human Remains from the British Museum Collection: Research Potential and Examples from the Nile Valley
Daniel Antoine and Janet Ambers
Part Two – Caring For, Conserving and Storing Human Remains
Ancestral Remains from Oceania: Histories and Relationships in the Collection of the British Museum
Natasha Mc Kinney
Collection Care: Handling, Storing and Transporting Human Remains
Daniel Antoine and Emily Taylor
Conservation of Human Remains from Archaeological Contexts
Barbara Wills, Clare Ward and Vanessa Sáiz Gómez with contributions by Capucine Korenberg and Julianne Phippard
Part Three – Researching the British Museum Collection
Clark Spencer Larsen
Old Bones Overturned: New Evidence for Funerary Practices from the Sasanian Empire
St John Simpson and Theya Molleson
Beneath the Surface: Imaging Techniques and the Jericho Skull
Alexandra Fletcher, Jessica Pearson, Theya Molleson, Richard Abel, Janet Ambers and Crispin Wiles
The Collection of Egyptian Mummies in the British Museum: Overview and Potential for Study
The Human Remains from Tell es-Sa‘idiyeh: International Custodianship, Respect and Research
Jonathan Tubb and Caroline Cartwright
The Bioarchaeology of Amara West in Nubia: Investigating the Impacts of Political, Cultural and Environmental Change on Health and Diet
Michaela Binder and Neal Spencer