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Still Waters

Do Egyptian mummies have a right to privacy?

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Still Waters
SHOULD we consider the privacy or reputation of the individual when analysing an Egyptian mummy? The assumption that ancient corpses are fair game for science is beginning to be challenged.

Though strict ethical guidelines apply to research on modern tissue samples, up until now there has been little discussion about work on ancient human remains. In a recent paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics (DOI: 10.1136/jme.2010.036608), anatomist Frank Rühli and ethicist Ina Kaufmann of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, argue that this is disturbing because research on mummies is invasive and reveals intimate information such as family history and medical conditions. And, of course, the subjects cannot provide consent.

"The human body, alive or dead, has a moral value," says Rühli, who is himself involved in mummy research. He says that no matter how old a body is, researchers must balance the benefits of their research against the potential rights and desires of the deceased individual.

For example, the release of information about the medical history of an ancient Egyptian ruler such as Tutankhamun could violate his wish to be remembered as strong and healthy. On the other hand, it could increase his fame, which would fit with his desire to be remembered after death.

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Druidus-Logos

I disagree. People will undoubtedly find fault with me for this, but I truly don't believe in dead people having worth. They are GONE. The have no more interest in this world. What is done to their bodies is moot.

I would have no problem with my body being used for ANYTHING after my death. It has no bearing on me, the conscious me. I personally want to be left in the woods so that I can be used by nature, but I don't have qualms with researchers using my body.

I can't honestly even claim to care if a necrophile were to find my body and use it for his/her disturbing purposes. At least someone is benefitting from my death. I know it's disgusting, but, again, I'm dead, I'm gone, I don't care anymore. I'm a pile of proteins, fats, sugars, water, and other compounds. Nothing more or less.

So, no, I don't think studying mummies is wrong, and I think my personal beliefs show that I'm not being hypocritical when I say this.

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Eldorado

I feel similar, Druidus.

Once I die, medical students can have my body and get some practice in.

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Pinx

I agree with the two of you and will add that I don't care what happens to my body after I'm dead, so long as it's not just stuck in a coffin and buried. If I'm dead, I don't need to take a tree down with me, too.

Also, even if the mummies did somehow know you'd disturbed their remains, they've been dead so long, you'd think they wouldn't mind some excitement to stir up the eternal boredom. :P

Edited by Pinx

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Keel M.

I don't see what the big deal is and I agree with Druid and the others, though admittedly the thought of necrophiles using my body for something I don't consider natural is not something I'd want to dwell on. Still, the over all point is well made. After all, there are plenty of animals who shed their outer skin, leaving it behind as useless. The same could be said of us. As was pointed out, we have no use for it after we're dead and gone.

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Druidus-Logos

I don't see what the big deal is and I agree with Druid and the others, though admittedly the thought of necrophiles using my body for something I don't consider natural is not something I'd want to dwell on. Still, the over all point is well made. After all, there are plenty of animals who shed their outer skin, leaving it behind as useless. The same could be said of us. As was pointed out, we have no use for it after we're dead and gone.

lol, I don't want to think heavily on it either. The point's just that if it DID happen, I wouldn't care, because I wouldn't be ABLE to care, you know? I wouldn't PLAN for my body to used by a necrophile, but **** happens, right? ;)

Also, it depends on your definition of natural whether it is or not. I know that many animals have been recorded initiating sex with dead members of their own species. Surely, it's a malfunction, but it IS a natural malfunction.

Humans SHOULD know better, but we are subject to the same malfunctions, unfortunately. Disgusting, distasteful, and unethical (not to the body but to the relatives; the body doesn't care), but still natural.

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Siara

How ridiculous. When they were alive they probably had a bevy of slaves cleaning and perfuming every orifice of their bodies several times a day while other slaves fanned them with peacock feathers and peeled grapes for them. Privacy? Give me a break.

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Siara

I don't see what the big deal is and I agree with Druid and the others, though admittedly the thought of necrophiles using my body for something I don't consider natural is not something I'd want to dwell on.

I don't think necrophiles are a threat for these guys (at least I hope not)

ikra-01f-ramses-ii-l.jpg

Edited by Siara

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Eldorado

How ridiculous. When they were alive they probably had a bevy of slaves cleaning and perfuming every orifice of their bodies several times a day while other slaves fanned them with peacock feathers and peeled grapes for them. Privacy? Give me a break.

:lol:

Peel me a grape.

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Oberon Delta

I say no for, they are DEAD.

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zenfahr

According to my drivers license, in the event of my death, they are allowed to cut me up and use me for spare parts..........................

as long as they say please!!! lol

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OverSword

Political correctness brought to an inevitable extreme. Now you see why guns should be legal. :rolleyes:

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Siara

Political correctness brought to an inevitable extreme. Now you see why guns should be legal. :rolleyes:

...shoot the author of the article you mean? I normally support gun control but maybe in this case we could make an exception.

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Purplos

I'm with the rest of you reasonable people. :)

I never understood the 'sanctity' or whatever of a dead body myself.

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pennywise4321

you guys are horrible

you have absolutely no idea what happens when you die

they died in age before human experiments were invented

why should we take their body which they lived in and just cut it up without permission

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Siara

you guys are horrible

you have absolutely no idea what happens when you die

they died in age before human experiments were invented

why should we take their body which they lived in and just cut it up without permission

"Don't you dare cut me up without permission. Oh yeah... except that mummification ritual where your suck my brain out through my nostrils... no problem with that. Stashing my entrials in a jar... likewise no problem".

Penny, they don't cut them up any more. They take CT scans and that sort of thing.

Edited by Siara

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farandaway

Why take up space in some graveyard when your old carcass can be of some benefit?:lol:I think once you've been gone that long the statute of limitations for privacy are done!

Edited by farandaway

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Druidus-Logos

you guys are horrible

you have absolutely no idea what happens when you die

they died in age before human experiments were invented

why should we take their body which they lived in and just cut it up without permission

Yeah, whatever...

Perhaps in the pursuit of science?

They no longer exist. They don't matter as conscious entities. We do; and our science. So go have your pity party elsewhere.

"Don't you dare cut me up without permission. Oh yeah... except that mummification ritual where your suck my brain out through my nostrils... no problem with that. Stashing my entrials in a jar... likewise no problem".

Penny, they don't cut them up any more. They take CT scans and that sort of thing.

Excellent, excellent post, Siara. I like you more and more each day.

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Blue Lizard

According to most of you guys, consent should not even be required? Or no consent required for those that are already dead before such laws were enforced? If it is the latter, it wouldn't make any sense... as respect for one's rights over things like their own body isn't depended on enforced laws.

So, I am guessing you guys mean to say that science shouldn't ask for the consent of people before using their corpses for experimentation. Why does it matter anyways right? Ok first of all, science is limited and we have no understanding of what is to be expected in the afterlife or if such a phase even exists for human beings. So, if the condition of your body does in fact matter in a supposed after life or whatever form you exist after death, then that's going to be a problem.

Ignoring that probability is not really scientific. It will of course, help us make some scientific studies for the time being but to be scientifically sound, one must keep in mind to assess all possibilities. Yes, we can go on saying about there is no after life and we all go to dust but there is no evidence that this is completely true (and probably won't be), and so it is important to act intelligently and assume nothing- i.e. be open minded to all possibilities. If there is no after life, it is just another body that didn't go to science or ********** for that matter. For those who are not concerned with others experimenting their dead bodies, then that's great and I have nothing against them. But however, I do strongly support the idea that people should have the right to consent about similar things, since the body is more theirs or their family's than science's.

Basically, for those who want to give it away - great, but let those who want to keep it, should have that right to do so. Besides some people might feel that is down right disgraceful for their culture and their beliefs. The Bible, for example, states that any dead body that is not buried after a long time, will cause the land to be cursed. The Egyptians also had a similar belief like the several curses of the mummies. Other people might want the right to privacy, since they don't want to be seen naked and touched around without their consent, even if it is not **********.

Also, just because the Egyptians had slaves that cleaned their body and did other sexual things for them, doesn't mean they some how lose their rights. A lot of people have sex with more than one partner, but that doesn't mean they want to walk around naked and have no right to privacy. I am sorry, but I don't see a reasonable connection between the two things. The difference is that whatever they did in life was with their consent, and whatever the scientists are doing now, doesn't require consent from these people. This also makes Egyptians sound like really filthy people who didn't care about privacy during the time they were alive, which is completely not true- as again, they would have not worn anything if they didn't care about privacy.

Another thing to keep in mind, science works for the people, not the other way around. In the olden days, some scientists and physicians used to pay grave diggers to get dead bodies for experimentation. These grave diggers would even start killing people, to get more money and at a faster rate. So yeah, it is important to keep in mind that science works for people, and so the rights and wants of the people, especially when it concerns their own body, comes first before anything science wants to do.

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Superglobe

These are people who are long dead, whose spirit (if such a thing exists) has long left their body, and whose family cannot reasonably be found to ask for permission.

In short, no, people dead for many thousands of years do not have the right to privacy, is this honestly being seriously considered? It's quite ridiculous.

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Pinx

So, I am guessing you guys mean to say that science shouldn't ask for the consent of people before using their corpses for experimentation. Why does it matter anyways right? Ok first of all, science is limited and we have no understanding of what is to be expected in the afterlife or if such a phase even exists for human beings. So, if the condition of your body does in fact matter in a supposed after life or whatever form you exist after death, then that's going to be a problem.

That's just silly. Whether nature does it thousands of years from now or medical students do it or the cause of death already did, the body eventually gets destroyed. I can't see any "after life" that may exist being dependent on the state of whatever vessel it left from. The fact is, we treat the dead the way we do out of respect for the living, because that's what society has agreed upon. Even then, it's not always what the dead would have wanted. I remember when my friend's uncle passed away, his dad wanted to have him cremated according to the uncle's wishes, but since there was no proper will, his kids took him back to his birth-country and had him buried.

Also, in regards to privacy, in this day and age, even being alive doesn't guarantee that. But regarding the dead, just take a look at any publicized death where autopsy results are posted, the details of the scandalous position the deceased was found in, or the suicide note is described over and over again on the news. The thing is, the dead people involved didn't consent to have that info published at all, it was those people's LIVING relatives that did, despite said info possibly damaging the deceased's reputation/memory/whatever. THEY are the ones okay with that. The dead no longer has a say in it. The mummies in question have no relatives of consequence in this day and age. It's the same reason many secret files/documents/studies don't get revealed to the public until 50-100 years after the event, all the people that might have been involved/affected are all most likely dead.

Edited by Pinx

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Blue Lizard

These are people who are long dead, whose spirit (if such a thing exists) has long left their body, and whose family cannot reasonably be found to ask for permission.

In short, no, people dead for many thousands of years do not have the right to privacy, is this honestly being seriously considered? It's quite ridiculous.

Having a soul or spirit that leaves the body behind forever and that whatever harm done to the body doesn't affect the souls, is mostly a Judeo-Christian belief - sorry to point that out. Yes, I am glad that you pointed out that there might also be no souls, but one should also keep in mind that other religions don't view afterlife exactly as most people do these days. Every religion should be respected, and these bodies were buried with those religious beliefs in mind, especially for the Egyptians. This choice should be respected, even if we don't personally believe in it. It shouldn't matter what we believe, but rather what they did, since it's their bodies.

The views of the Egyptians have been scientifically studied to an extent and some things can be inferred to show that the Egyptians would have most likely not agreed to this, if they were still alive.

"Egyptians believed that each person had a physical body and a ‘ka’ – a life force that continued after their death... Crucially, the ka would need re-uniting with a physical body, which is why corpses were mummified.1"

"The dead chose to travel on the solar barque, a low-slung boat from which Re, the sun god, recreated the world every day, as a way to achieve eternal life.

A priest had to perform the, "Opening of the Mouth," ceremony over the mummified body, whereby all the incantations restored all the senses to the body. Speech especially was needed, since the Egyptians had to justify their time on earth upon arrival at the Hall of Judgment.2"

So, what we are doing to their bodies are definitely against what they believed and hence it can be inferred that they wouldn't have agreed to it. Basically, respect their culture and their religion - no matter how many years have passed because every human being deserves the right over their own body, even after death. Science has to respect other people's boundaries and not put their beliefs and values to shame- just because we don't believe in the same things. People come first and I don't know think that's weird or ridiculous to believe that.

Source(s):

1. "The Afterlife - Egyptian Death - Egypt - Discovery Channel." Discovery Channel International. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. <http://www.yourdiscovery.com/egypt/dead/afterlife/index.shtml>.

2. "Museum of Science : Ancient Egypt Science & Technology : The Egyptian Afterlife." Museum of Science, Boston | Home. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. <http://www.mos.org/quest/afterlife.php>.

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Blue Lizard

That's just silly. Whether nature does it thousands of years from now or medical students do it or the cause of death already did, the body eventually gets destroyed. I can't see any "after life" that may exist being dependent on the state of whatever vessel it left from. The fact is, we treat the dead the way we do out of respect for the living, because that's what society has agreed upon. Even then, it's not always what the dead would have wanted. I remember when my friend's uncle passed away, his dad wanted to have him cremated according to the uncle's wishes, but since there was no proper will, his kids took him back to his birth-country and had him buried.

Also, in regards to privacy, in this day and age, even being alive doesn't guarantee that. But regarding the dead, just take a look at any publicized death where autopsy results are posted, the details of the scandalous position the deceased was found in, or the suicide note is described over and over again on the news. The thing is, the dead people involved didn't consent to have that info published at all, it was those people's LIVING relatives that did. The mummies in question have no relatives of consequence in this day and age. It's the same reason many secret files/documents/studies don't get revealed to the public until 50-100 years after the event, all the people that might have been involved/affected are all most likely dead.

I don't know what you believe, but they Egyptians valued their mummified bodies even after death. Our beliefs and our opinions of what will happen shouldn't matter, since it's their body. Yes, we can make a lot of assumptions, but let's be frank, we don't know what happens after death - whether we need the body or if we don't- science can't help us there. It's one thing for the relatives to decide (since dead people who didn't have a will would probably want it that way considering the scenario, and also because the dead was most likely valued and known by his relatives), and a completely another thing for science to decide (we don't know them personally, they don't know us, and we are not even closely related to them).

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Druidus-Logos

According to most of you guys, consent should not even be required? Or no consent required for those that are already dead before such laws were enforced?

When you are dead, you have no purpose, no ability to desire anything. It doesn't matter what you wanted anymore. I'm not being hypocritical here, I don't think consent should be required for my body after I'm dead either. I understand that some people are disturbed at the thought of their bodies being used in death. I also don't think it matters that they're disturbed. They won't be when they're dead.

"If it is the latter, it wouldn't make any sense..."

Good thing it's not the latter. It's more than that. When you are dead, you don't have any rights. You don't have desires or needs. You don't need to give consent. Again, you are a pile of proteins, fats, sugars, and other assorted compounds. Sorry if that sounds blunt, but it's true.

"as respect for one's rights over things like their own body isn't depended on enforced laws. "

You're right, bodily respect should be the utmost of human concerns. When you're alive.

"So, I am guessing you guys mean to say that science shouldn't ask for the consent of people before using their corpses for experimentation."

Yep. Scientific experimentation is more important than the misguided wishes of individuals who want to hoard their physical resources even after death, when they don't need them.

"hy does it matter anyways right"

Indeed. I'm sure you think you know why, but you won't make many converts. I'm sure it boils down to religious reasons at heart.

"k first of all, science is limited"

Even MORE limited by people who try to make the study of people who are dead impossible. Just because it is limited means absolutely nothing, btw.

"nd we have no understanding of what is to be expected in the afterlife or if such a phase even exists for human beings."

We have plenty of understanding. We rot. Of course we don't know if there is an existence afterwards. But regardless of whether or not there is, our bodies ROT. Better to be used for science or medicine.

So, if the condition of your body does in fact matter in a supposed after life or whatever form you exist after death, then that's going to be a problem.

It'll ALWAYS be a problem if that's the case. Bodies rot. Dig up a body after 30 years. It's just a skeleton. So what are you saying? That you need to be pristine for all eternity to have an afterlife? Because that's ridiculous.

Ignoring that probability is not really scientific.

I'm sorry, but entering a problem like what happens after death with preconcieved notions like yours of probability is no scientific.

It will of course, help us make some scientific studies for the time being but to be scientifically sound, one must keep in mind to assess all possibilities.

Which we are doing. Assessing all possibilities.

Yes, we can go on saying about there is no after life

Ok.

and we all go to dust but there is no evidence that this is completely true

There's all the evidence in the world for this and no real evience for an afterlife, you've got it backwards.

(and probably won't be)

Preconcieved notions.

and so it is important to act intelligently and assume nothing

Like you, assuming only what you want and pretending you don't? Your preconceptions?

be open minded to all possibilities.

I'm totally open to all possibiities as soon as they evidence themselves. Not even rodents are functioning normally if they act like they are in possibilities with no evidence of existence detectable to the rodents.

If there is no after life, it is just another body that didn't go to science or ********** for that matter.

I don't get your meaning. Is this rhetoric?

But however, I do strongly support the idea that people should have the right to consent about similar things, since the body is more theirs or their family's than science's.

Basically, for those who want to give it away - great, but let those who want to keep it, should have that right to do so.

I agree. So long as it actually causes harm, taking someone's body without consent is wrong. But they are dead. The only way this can happen is with dead people who have surviving family members. I agree that people shouldn't be experimented on or studied in death when they have family members it could hurt. But I really don't think what happens to a dead body matters. I personally would respect the request of someone who asked to be preserved somehow after death, but I don't really think it matters.

some people might feel that is down right disgraceful for their culture and their beliefs.

No one is forcing any living being to do anything, or hurting and extant living beings. In thi case I see no harm.

The Bible, for example, states that any dead body that is not buried after a long time, will cause the land to be cursed.

My life is not dictated by what I clearly see as fairy tales to give morals to ancient illiterates, later written down and coverted to propaganda.

Egyptians also had a similar belief like the several curses of the mummies.

Really? Laughable. Also, I see no harm.

"Other people might want the right to privacy, since they don't want to be seen naked and touched around without their consent, even if it is not **********. "

If they are dead, they want nothing.

"Also, just because the Egyptians had slaves that cleaned their body and did other sexual things for them, doesn't mean they some how lose their rights."

I agree, just not with why this is necessarily a right.

" A lot of people have sex with more than one partner, but that doesn't mean they want to walk around naked and have no right to privacy. "

Totally correct, no one said that.

"I am sorry, but I don't see a reasonable connection between the two things."

I do not see how you can think we tried to claim what you think we did.

" The difference is that whatever they did in life was with their consent, and whatever the scientists are doing now, doesn't require consent from these people.È

They are no longer possessed of will, determination, purpose, consciousness, desire, direction, need, or the ability to consent. They are, functionally and practically, not peopl.

" This also makes Egyptians sound like really filthy people who didn't care about privacy during the time they were alive, which is completely not true- as again, they would have not worn anything if they didn't care about privacy"

Again, no. I am not being hypocritical, I do not think it means that for me. I do not think that way and I am not filthy, yet this is how I think.

"Another thing to keep in mind, science works for the people, not the other way around."

Ideally.

" In the olden days, some scientists and physicians used to pay grave diggers to get dead bodies for experimentation. These grave diggers would even start killing people, to get more money and at a faster rate."

Criminals have always existed. In the olden days, Christians slaughtered millions of people of all races. The peoples sort of varied as the ages went by.

" So yeah, it is important to keep in mind that science works for people, and so the rights and wants of the people, especially when it concerns their own body, comes first before anything science wants to do."

Ok. But what I believe is that someone should have to specifically request for their body to be exempt from the purposes of science or have family members who do it for you for this to be. Otherwise, I see no reason not to use the dead body for all possible informational needs.

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ThePitOfReason

When your gone your just gone. For some reason many people feel that even after they die that whats left behind is still worth the thought of hanging onto. I'm guessing that until then we may not have a real good idea of the emotions involved. People are each very different some would cut of an arm to help someone else while others wouldn't let go of a single drop of blood.

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