JAIC 1996, Volume 35, Number 2, Article 3 (pp. 109 to 121)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1996, Volume 35, Number 2, Article 3 (pp. 109 to 121)

THE ETHICAL DILEMMA FACING CONSERVATION: CARE AND TREATMENT OF HUMAN SKELETAL REMAINS AND MORTUARY OBJECTS

GAYS S. McGOWAN, & CHERYL J. LaROCHE


ABSTRACT—The ethical treatment of corporeal materials is confounded by the dual cultural and scientific values ascribed to human bone. The cultural concerns for the sacred significance of human remains often come into direct conflict with scientific investigation. The authors have been involved in a number of difficult situations between the professional communities who have responsibility for the scientific investigation of human remains and the lay communities who have been concerned for the sacred and spiritual aspects of these materials. This paper addresses a variety of professional approaches to the treatment of human skeletal materials and the need for interdisciplinary cooperation among the professions that study and care for these materials. It also addresses the need for AIC to recognize human remains as a discrete material deserving of considerations that are distinct from any other materials we treat as conservators.
[Spanish Abstract] [French Abstract]

Article Sections:

1. INTRODUCTION
2. CULTURAL AND METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES
3. ARCHAEOLOGY AND PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY
4. LEGISLATION AND ACTIVISM
5. PROFESSIONAL IMPLICATIONS
6. CONSERVATION AND SCIENTIFIC CONCERNS
7. CONCLUSIONS
a: References , Author Information
Entire Article

Copyright 1996 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works