To think they should leave dead kings where they are?

(36 Posts)
Goldmandra Wed 12-Sep-12 22:37:02

and other people who died a long time ago?

How long does someone have to be dead before it's OK to dig them up again?

PatronSaintOfDucks Wed 12-Sep-12 23:40:39

I think it's a matter of how much one's alive compatriots see the issue. Lots of native American tribes (north and south) seriously mind their ancestors, even from a thousand years ago, being dug up and poked in labs and museums. They successfully fought some cases. Most people of European descent, however, don't mind a bit of morbid fascination if the deceased person is not their close relative and is removed from them by a couple hundred years. However, even we in Europe have boundaries - it's ok to put people from a couple of thousand years ago in museum, but somebody who's been in the ground for only a couple of hundred can be respectfully researched, but then must be put back in some tomb.

There is also got to be some kind of international legislation on this.

Goldmandra Thu 13-Sep-12 00:28:08

It's all a bit bizarre really.

I don't even know why it bothered me so much as I couldn't care less what happens to my body when I die as long as long as whoever I leave behind isn't upset by it.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Thu 13-Sep-12 00:34:08

There are many places, where you dont get to be buried forever. You get a grave when you are newly dead, but after a certain length of time, you get exhumed, and your bones stacked in a charnel house.

TunipTheVegemal Thu 13-Sep-12 06:51:42

PatronSaint - it would be hard to have international legislation when different cultures & religions view it so differently.

Goldmandra Thu 13-Sep-12 08:20:36

I'f forgotten about that Saggy.

Maybe IAMBU to think he's got a right to be left in peace then. Lots of people seem to get dug up for various reasons.

There are lots of guidelines about digging up bodies. My department are 1/4 archaeologists and they do masses of training about being respectful. I think they would work very carefully.

I don't imagine he would mind anyway. Medieval people were mad keen on chopping up dead bodies and burying a bit here, a bit there, digging them up, popping them into reliqueries, burying them again, making pretty patterns with bones ... they didn't have the same ideas about dead bodies that we do. I would put money on that he would think it was respectful to be re-buried properly, rather than minding about being disturbed.

It's like that bit in Hamlet with the gravedigger being all matter-of-fact about how long it takes to decompose a corpse, and when you have to clear out the bones for the next person - people were much more in touch with all of this stuff, and not too fussed about it. Just google 'transi tomb' to see.

Goldmandra Thu 13-Sep-12 09:00:27

"Medieval people were mad keen on chopping up dead bodies and burying a bit here, a bit there, digging them up, popping them into reliqueries, burying them again, making pretty patterns with bones"

LRD that made me laugh grin

You're right of course, although I may pass on Googling 'transitomb' shock

I lurve my medieval dead people. I am glad it made you laugh. smile

Though, people still do it I guess. A year or two ago DH's church had a relic sent to them so everyone could visit, and you can go and kiss the bones if you feel so inclined. Not my thing at all, but it does go to show that not everyone has the same attitude to death.

The best opening line of a historical novel ever has to be from The Bone Peddler: 'In the crypt of the Abbey Church at Hallowdene the monks were boiling their Bishop...'

WhatYouLookingAt Thu 13-Sep-12 09:04:49

A gross invasion of who's privacy? They are long dead, they don't exist anymore, they don't have any privacy to be invaded. Just a bag of bones.

Goldmandra Thu 13-Sep-12 11:12:19

"A gross invasion of who's privacy?"

I know it sounds bizarre. It was not something I had ever thought about before. It was just an emotion which hit me as I looked down, as if we were all standing round staring at a complete stranger in bed or something.

It wasn't logical at all. He/she was long dead.

Maybe it was because our involvement was driven by curiosity rather than performing a service or ritual we think of as laying to rest.\

We preserve the privacy and dignity of the recent dead. Why not those who have been in the ground a while? How long is long enough?

I would be quite pleased at the thought of someone digging up (what was left of) me in a few hundred years for research, provided there was something interesting enough about me for them to bother!

Doubt I will ever be Queen of England though, so they might not be interested in my relatively unexciting life...

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