Disrepecting corpses - It needs to stop

People of most cultures do not like the idea of someone coming along and disturbing their graves and disrespecting their corpse. The ancient Egyptians took some pretty extreme measures to preserve their corpses, especially the royal corpses. I watched an episode of NOVA tonight that touched on the disrespect being shown to corpses of ancient Egyptians by publicly displaying them.

Would we stand for it if someone dug up Lincoln and displayed his corpse?
If you are a parent, would you find it acceptable for someone to did up your dead child and display his corpse (even going so far as to display it for profit)?
Would this be OK if time had passed since the death?
How much time is necessary?

Let’s not pretend these this is disrespect is for knowledge. The study of these corpses can be done in private with the results being published. The displaying of the corpses is nothing but a circus freak show. Imagine the tourist that just wants to gawk at a really old body before she hits the museum snack bar to get a corn-dog. Again, pretend it was your child. Or, if you don’t have a child, pretend it is your mother.

This disrespect has to stop.

Sure, why not? I do find the wax mask on the Saint dude who was exhumed for exhibit a bit creepy, but I guess it’s better than looking at rotting flesh.

Sure. I’d prefer it be for education, or art, but I have no real beef with profit, either.


I’d like a few hours for the organ harvesters to get what they need first. And maybe some time for a family memorial. After that, it’s just so much meat.

Oh, sorry, you can’t have my mother’s body. She’s already got all the paperwork filled out to donate her body to The Body Farm for forensic anthropoligic research. They’ll probably smash her skull to test bicycle helmet designs or leave her limbs out in a field somewhere so they can learn more about the decay cycle. Maybe they’ll melt bits of her with acids or something, that’d be cool.

Uh huh. Guess we have different ideas about what “disrespect” means. Good thing it’s a free country and you can’t be forced into following my family’s idea of respecting the dead - which is using our corpses to better the lives of the living, whether it be through science or entertainment.

Dang it. DANG it. Now my weekend plans with Bernie are right out the window.

I have no problem with how you choose to direct the use your own corpse (or your kids’), but most people would not choose to do this.

What benefit is the freak show display of mummies?

How do you feel about the Bodies Exhibit?

We are just meat. A sack of biodegradable material (most of us, at least). If I had my way I would be thrown in the ocean without much fanfare.

I respect that other people feel differently. I just don’t understand, or agree with the belief that that chunk of dead meat is sacred.

I prefer my body to be disrespected while I’m alive, thank you very much.


How do they get the bodies?

Bodies? I’m not an animal!

Source: http://www.bodiesrevealed.com/index-process.html

If you are referring to the desecration of Native American grave sites, artifacts and remains, read up on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

If the body was legally willed, I have no problem with the display.

What do you mean by if? The link provided offers information that is very clear and the word “if” is not in it.

If I live to be 5000 years old then I guess the question would be relevant but time is a function of this discussion. How about the partial skull of Lucy. Or a femur that turns up without the rest of the body. To call a museum a freak-show is a bit harsh. Museums are a visual representation of accumulated anthropologic study. If we dressed the mummy’s up in drag that would be a freak-show.

You leave Hapshetsut out of this!


Let’s not get tooo jumpy - I think it’s pretty clear he meant it in the same sense as “Since the …”

As to the OP - I can sort of see (when no clear will for disposition has been made) a case for the immediate family having valid objections. But I don’t think after that it counts. Certainly not for someone like Tutankhamen or Tollünd Man or Ötzi. Yes, I’m not in favour of displaying them for profit (like in a sideshow) but certainly in a scientific or educational context, like a museum, I’m all for it.

And no, I don’t consider cultural or religious objections particularly valid either. Case in point: Quite a big deal was made here about the remains of Sarah Baartman, who was displayed in 19th C. England and France as the “Hottentot Venus”. After her death, certain … parts of her were preserved for pretty prurient interest. *Not *something I agree with, but what I object to much more is her treatment in life. I don’t think retrieving her remains and burying them “back in home soil” in any way erases what was done to her or makes up for it. They’re just parts now.

I’m puzzled. What is the OP about? Has there been some sudden spike in corpse-disrespecting? Little kids and Moms being dug up and used as freakshow attractions, where leering carnies hawk tickets to the 10-in-1? My reading would lead me to believe that corpses are treated pretty reasonably, compared with days of yore.

Two and a Half Inches of Fun, perhaps you are thinking of the practices of such fine outfits as the Supreme Revolutionary Council, the Taliban, Islamic Jihad, and their associates? Or who ARE you talking about?

Yeah, that IS weird…make you think, “Wow, if I was around 3,000 years ago…” :eek:

Well, then the issue is with the visitor not the exhibit, isn´t it? In one hand you have your case and in the other you have someone that sees the remanents of a body, the life and culture it represents.
There´s nothing as powerful to lift the mists of time than seeing someone (or what remains of it anyway) whol lived those historical times. I remember the inmense feeling of awe I felt when I saw my first mummy in person, there it was a human being that lived thousands of years ago; this person was once alive, where did he live?, what did he do?, what did he aspired too? He seeked immortality, that´s for certain, and although I don´t have that mystical belief I think that he achived a glimpse of it by not vanishing into oblivion. People want to know who he was, where he lived, what did he do. His memory is not lost.

I agree with the original poster, whose name I believe refers to Egyptian culture.

Another concern I have is allowing state sponsored museums to disturb the mummies and thereby acknowledging the falsity of their religion. A greater and more systemic violation of the principle of separation of church and state simply does not exist.

Oh I’d be happy to agree with him that it’s disrespectful to the ancient Egyptian culture to display mummies. I’m not sure I care much about disrespecting people who have been dead for 3000 years, but if current, living Egyptians have a problem with it, it should be stopped. I’m a pretty firm believer in treating people and their property as they’d like to be treated, and I think that the people of Egypt have a far greater claim to those mummies than I do.

My problem lies solely with his appeal to emotion as a debate tactic. It completely backfires, in this case, because by asking me what I’d like to see happen to my children’s and mother’s bodies and suggesting that I apply that to the display of bodies in general, he’s shot himself in the foot, see. The entire point, IMHO, is that we shouldn’t treat others as we’d like to be treated, but how they’d like to be treated.

I really, really hope that 2.5 inches never visits Moscow.

There are several such exhibits traveling the country right now. SOME of them feature unclaimed corpses, such as the one you mentioned above.

HOWEVER, I would say it’s very tastefully done.

Bodies is currently at the Carnegie Science Center. It’s extremely popular, and even those with strong religious leanings think it’s very tasteful and educational.
Two and a Half, considering your comments towards LIVING people who happen to be fat, I suggest you not be so hypocritical, and worry more about the living.