New Standards for Ancient Human Remains: From Reification to Personalisation?

  • Gaëlle Clavandier Université de Lyon, UJM-Saint-Etienne, CNRS, CMW UMR 5283, Lyon; Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, EFS, ADES UMR 7268, Marseille, France
Keywords: ancient human remains, mortal remains, human dignity, burial, cemetery, professional practices and standards
Language(s): French


The norms regarding human remains, old or new, are changing; we are witnessing unprecedented adjustments that tend to humanize these remains. Some of these, in very different contexts, are now treated as mortal remains and can benefit from treatment that could be qualified as funeral and lead to the cemetery. These changes are frequently interpreted as the result of the expression of ties (family ties, community affiliation) that promote a grieving process or a memory dynamic. However, a second trend is at work to apply principles dedicated to mortal remains, including the principle of human dignity, to human remains that have until now been reified. This trend can be observed at two levels, that of legal doctrine and that of practice. This article is based on an example from a recent preventive archaeological excavation, that captures both the issues and the responses adopted in situ about the trajectory and fate of these human remains.

How to Cite
Clavandier G. New Standards for Ancient Human Remains: From Reification to Personalisation?. Can. J. Bioeth. 2019;2:79-87.