Ethics are someone's moral principles and beliefs that govern their behavior and lifestyle. These moral principles can ultimately offend large populations if dealt with poorly, so the excavation, analysis and handling of human remains is a sensitive topic that must be considered when dealing with a body. The Chinese mummies are no exception as many ethical issues have arisen due to the discovery of these mummies; and other mummies in the past.
Ethics and Mummies
In 1980, the display of ancient Egyptian mummies in the Cairo Museum was outlawed by President Anwar Sadat. He was concerned with the ethics of their display as he was aware of their ancient beliefs. Ancient Egyptians believed that a disturbance of the dead (in this case the display of mummies) would disrupt their life in the afterlife. In modern times the display of these mummies have been done with greater care and have reduced the amount of ethical issues brought up about their display.
The events that occurred in Cairo have also affected the display of ancient human remains around the world. The ethics behind the display of the famous Chinese mummies must be taken into consideration. Although the beliefs of the Chinese mummies are unknown we can still respect the dead. At the Nicholson museum our display of the Chinese mummies will be restricted to 25 minutes to respect the ethics behind the mummies, reducing the amount of people offended by their display.
Ethics and Science
Science and technological advancements in modern times have significantly reduced any ethical issues involving the handling of mummies. Non-invasive techniques like X-rays and CT-scans reduce the damage done to a mummy but also being a more effective way in gaining knowledge of the deceased. When the Chinese mummies were first unearthed in the Taklamakan desert their organic tissue started to deteriorate due to the sudden change in atmosphere. The transportation of the mummies also affected the bodies negatively as most were damaged when relocated. These destructive techniques performed in the past has raised ethical issues regarding mummies. The evolution of science allow for archaeologists and scientists to understand the climatic conditions the mummies need in order to survive. Non-invasive autopsy techniques also allow further survival of the mummies whilst still being ethical and non-offensive.