Perspectives on ancient bodies
Italy possesses an incredible and extremely varied bioarchaeological heritage, which includes not only skeletal remains, but also mummies, ethnographic objects, or the famous Pompeian casts. Unfortunately the safeguard and conservation of many of these “materials” are not specifically regulated by the Cultural Heritage and Landscape Legislation, and are therefore often left to the care and common sense of the physical anthropologists, archaeologists and superintendents.
Italian laws lack tools like the British “Human Tissue Act” (2004 ) or specific codes of ethics and restoration. Ancient bodies are not alive individuals, they nevertheless may generate emotional bonds in the observer. Besides the strong relationship often existing between these remains and their own communities of inheritance (as defined in the Faro Convention) must be taken into account.
These issues, although addressed in the ICOM (International Council of Museums) ethical code, need further debate. The conference will try to address this debate along with new scientific methods of analysis, the relationship with descendant communities and local realities and the feelings of people visiting museums and archaeological parks.
Because those are not just bones.