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Pompeii and Herculaneum Human Remains

Pompeii and Herculaneum – Display of Human Remains

There are both positive and negative aspects concerning the study and display of human remains at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Though the problem lies in the determination of what is actually right or wrong, as attitudes vary between cultures and can change over time. So people have different ideas and opinions about it. Many think that displaying and studying human remains is further damaging the bodies and not having respect to deceased person but others also think that it is a gain rather than a loss.

Studying and display these humans remains from Pompeii and Herculaneum will allow the public to gain useful information about the past. It also allows historians, archaeologists and scientists to discover things that are new to the world. Many people consider studying and displaying humans remains from Pompeii and Herculaneum as a positive. It allows the public to gain knowledge of the past and promotes tourism. Along with this, it enables archaeologists, historians and scientists to gain various sources of information for future study and development.

However some people questioned whether or not the bodies will be damaged further or what would happen to them once they were exposed to the public. This was when Giuseppe Fiorelli’s plaster casting technique became of use. A plaster cast was a technique of using plaster to make casts of those bodies of the people in Pompeii and Herculaneum. This is evident in Source A – a plaster cast victim on display in Pompeii.

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The precise detailing of the cast enables a clear image of the position they died in and the facial expression they had.

This meant that archaeologists, scientists and historians were able to relate to the casts easier than skeletons because even facial expressions and details of clothing survived on some of the casts, allowing them to discover more information and useful resources for further study and knowledge. Not only that the public is intrigued by the features of the cast victims. People will travel to see these human remains and learn about the history of Pompeii and Herculaneum thus promoting the idea of tourism towards the country.

Source A is an example of this as in the background of the image we see multiple tourist who are looking at the plaster cast victim. Also, according to Source B, a young visitor recording her impressions after a visit to Pompeii states that it was “…a lovely spot and seemed to be a more respectful environment in which to display the casts”. With this, tourists will have a great impression on the site and will want to see the attractions Pompeii and Herculaneum have to offer and to be able to learn about the history.

Yet also improving the economy for the country, which is a positive aspect of studying and displaying human remains at Pompeii and Herculaneum. However, there are those who question if collecting, studying and displaying human remains from Pompeii and Herculaneum is further damaging the bodies rather than gaining information from it. Many also thought that having these remains displayed was an ethical issue. This was when attitudes began to change and debates centred on whether human remains were of scientific or cultural significance.

As various groups of people around the world had increasing pressure to have the remains returned for reburial ceremonies in their countries. So having human remains displayed out openly can be considered unethical and as a sign of disrespect to the deceased person, their families and their culture. Also in the progress of studying and examining the bodies further damage could be done which is a negative aspect. These bodies are of those who have passed away and they deserved to be left as they were for after life and a proper burial.

Thus why studying and displaying human remains at Pompeii and Herculaneum is considered a negative aspect. Conclusively, according to both Sources A and B and other sources relevant ethical issues concerning the study and display of human remains at Pompeii and Herculaneum is considered to have both negative and positive aspects. Studying and displaying these human remains are positive in gaining knowledge and tourism though however is also unethical as bodies should be given respect and a proper reburial ceremony for religious and cultural reasons.

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Pompeii and Herculaneum Human Remains. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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