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Ethics and Burial Archaeology (Debates in Archaeology) [Paperback]

Duncan Sayer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

24 Jun 2010 Debates in Archaeology
The investigation of human remains has always been central to archaeological, but archaeologists are not the only ones with an interest in their treatment. Political groups, religious organisations, descendant communities and disenfranchised interest groups are all becoming more vocal in expressing their opinions on this subject on a world stage. This book sets a new agenda for ethical studies in mortuary investigation, adducing a series of case studies which can be used to understand the questions facing burial archaeology. Who owns the dead - not just their bodies but also their stories? Do the remains themselves matter or are there other political agendas which influence interest groups? The author encourages archaeologists to be more open and inclusive when conducting mortuary projects, as it is often the perception of secrecy or interference with the dead that raises concern about the treatment of historical and scientifically important skeletal remains.

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Ethics and Burial Archaeology (Debates in Archaeology) + The Archaeology of Death and Burial
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (24 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715638939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715638934
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 768,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A founding member of the Association for the Study of Death and Society, Sayer has had much hands-on experience digging up Medieval and post-Medieval cemeteries, and with thinking about how the dead relate to the rest of society and the role that archaeology plays - and should or should not play - in that relationship. He covers archaeology and exhumation; archaeology, heritage, and British burial law; human decency, politics, and digging the dead; display, repatriation, and respect for the dead; and the problem of modernity and the ancient dead.

About the Author

Duncan Sayer is Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). He is co-editor of 'Mortuary Practice and Social Identities in the Middle Ages' (2009) and a founding member of the Association for the Study of Death and Society.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Undergraduates and educators will love this book because it takes the complexities of ethics and burial archaeology and distills them into clear explanations backed up by interesting case studies. Aside from a few minor typos the book is very well written with an engaging tone sure to pull in the reader. The population at large is no longer as tolerant as it once was of archaeologists digging up their ancestors and archaeologists need to develop a new framework for burial archaeology in response. The four main chapters cover a lot of ground - from how archaeologists go about exhuming the dead, to the legal issues involved to questions of decency and politics in burial archaeology and finally ending with a discussion of the display of the dead and repatriation of human remains. The focus is primarily European, though with a number of excellent examples from other countries; but the larger discussion of navigating the ethics of burial archaeology is highly relevant to archaeologists practising around the world.
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