Digging Up The past.... And The Dead.

I have always loved subjects to do with the past, where we come from, how we lived, worked, etc, since I have been metal detecting I have delved deeper into this subject with great interest. When I find an old coin one of the first things that pop in my head is about the loser of the coin, what did he/she look like, how they were dressed,  how they felt when they discovered they had lost it. So many things come to mind from that coin. One thing is for sure, if that coin is over 100 years old, you can bet the person is dead now, gone forever. It could even be that the person is totally forgotten and by finding that coin you have brought their memory back into existence. Don't we all want to be remembered after were gone.

The example above is good, that dead person is remembered for a little while and if that coin is a good one it may be displayed in a case for all to see and admire. Nothing at all wrong with that. Even the finding of hoards and treasures are exciting and we all love reading about them, better still if we find one. Of course, we must not forget the history we learn from all these finds and how we can understand our past. One of my greatest joys here on this blog is keeping the Archaeology and Treasure news up to date, I just love reading about any new finds and discoveries.

Since I have been creating this blog a niggling doubt has entered my head about some of the ways we learn about history. The question I have in my head is 'Is it right to disturb tombs'. How long must a person be dead before we can raid their resting place and I have to say it, 'Rob them'. We hear about grave robbers and how we think its wrong and shouldn't be done. The picture above shows resting places of deceased people, now if I was to go armed with a pick and shovel and dig them up to see what I could find I'd be thrown in prison and called all sorts of names. The families of these deceased people would want to string me up. Yet, isn't this what Archaeologists do, they dig up the graves and disturb the resting places of dead people and take away their belongings of things that had been buried with them. Some of these dead people not only have their resting places disturbed and their after life possessions taken away, but they themselves are also taken away to be experimented on and some end up in boxes on a museum's shelf for god knows how long.

I suppose one of the difference between  grave robbing and archaeology is that one is legal and the other isn't. Looking into it I can't help feeling they are both the same. They both profit from it. The grave robber by selling to collectors and the archaeologists by being paid for their work. You can argue that grave robbers are selfish and do it for their own gain and that archaeologists publish their work so we can all learn, that's all well and good but at the end of the day, isn't it still 'looting' the resting places of the dead.

Look at headstones of today, many have the words 'Rest In Peace' inscribed on them. Surely digging up these graves in say a 1,000 years is disturbing their peace. maybe an inscription like 'Rest In Peace, Please do not disturb me for 1,000 years' may be in order.

One thought that had crossed my mind is are graves only important to the surviving members of the family, a place to mourn their lost one. Once time has passed and no one mourns the grave anymore do the grave and occupant become objects, just dust and bones so can be exploited.

I suppose this has always been an ongoing argument and will continue to be.

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