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Through a Glass Darkly: A Consideration of the Ethical Challenges and Dilemmas Faced by Stakeholders Involved in the Display, Curation, and Study of Mummified Human Remains in the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Sicily

SQUIRES, Kirsty and Piombino-Mascali, Dario (2022) Through a Glass Darkly: A Consideration of the Ethical Challenges and Dilemmas Faced by Stakeholders Involved in the Display, Curation, and Study of Mummified Human Remains in the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Sicily. In: World Archaeology Congress 9th Annual Meeting, 3rd July 2022 - 8th July 2022, Prague, Czechia.

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Abstract or description

The Capuchin Catacombs (Palermo, Sicily) are home to the largest collection (n=1,284) of mummified human remains in Europe and have been open to visitors since their inauguration in the 16th century AD. The mummies of friars and members of the nobility and middle-class line the corridors of the Catacombs and give visitors the opportunity to learn about the people that once inhabited modern era (16th-19th century AD) Palermo. The wide-ranging interests and actions of stakeholders (e.g. descendants, the Capuchin Friars, cultural heritage bodies, researchers, and tourists) can greatly influence the way in which the mummies are curated, displayed, and studied. Through the use of three case studies, we will consider some of the key ethical challenges and dilemmas faced by those involved in the curation, display, and analysis of the Capuchin mummies. The examples that will be discussed in this paper address issues associated with unauthorised research projects, striking a balance between investment, conservation, and keeping the site open for tourists, and the need for accurate reporting of research projects in the media. Whilst these case studies deal with different challenges, they all have one thing in common: the need for transparent communication between all parties to ensure the mummies and site are preserved, scientists are able to conduct research, visitors can continue to learn about Palermo’s past and, most importantly, the wishes of the living and deceased are respected.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ethics, Mummies, Display, Analysis
Faculty: School of Law, Policing and Forensics > Forensic Sciences and Policing
Event Title: World Archaeology Congress 9th Annual Meeting
Event Location: Prague, Czechia
Event Dates: 3rd July 2022 - 8th July 2022
Depositing User: Kirsty SQUIRES
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2022 14:35
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2022 14:35
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/7397

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