Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Ethics and Human Remains

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_160

… due dignity and respect should be afforded in the recovery, storage, investigation and reburial of human remains regardless of their context (Hunter et al. 2001: 176).


Most professions adhere to an agreed code of conduct, commonly referred to as a “code of ethics,” with the intention being that all practitioners should undertake “best practice.” In reality, however, definitions of “best practice” vary because different cultures, societies, and groups have diverse set of value systems, namely, their own definitions of what is considered right (appropriate) and wrong (Walker 2000: 20). Because of the emotive nature of death, the treatment of human remains is often contentious and poses many ethical dilemmas.


Ethics is a branch of philosophy concerned with the evaluation of the principles and standards of human conduct that govern the behavior of individuals and groups (Bottorff 2005).

Key Issues/Current Debates

Locating and Recovering Human Remains: Digging up...

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Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forensic MedicineVictorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Monash UniversitySouthbankAustralia