In a recent news article, Hungary: Archeologists Discover the Tomb of Attila the Hun, another grave of a famous individual from history has been uncovered and excavated. Included in the tomb might be the legendary “Holy War Sword of the Scythians,” allegedly given to him by the god Mars, himself.
On one hand, we can only learn from the past if someone remembers it, wrote it down or a discovery is made by digging in the earth.
On the other hand, the wishes of those buried might conflict with the search for history.
The hundreds of people that died so that the grave of Temujin (aka Genghis Khan) could remain secret would have died in vain were some person to find it and dig it up, not to mention the millions of Mongolians that would probably want to behead that person. I do not have any conflicting emotions about leaving him buried in secret.
However, there is a federal law on the books that almost keeps all the prehistory of the United States a secret. I absolutely believe in honoring the dead and their customs, I also believe that identifiable individuals from populations that do not wish to be disturbed should be left alone.
Some might say that the law protects and respects the burial customs of Native American populations, but does it go too far? As it stands now, any human remains found are to be reburied without examination or testing, which goes a long way to ensure that the definition of a Native American remains static and unchanging. With the other recent news from the New York Times (Discoveries Challenge Beliefs on Humans’ Arrival in the Americas,) that definition has to change, now that the dates of arrival have been sent back to 22,000 years ago. Clovis First, although staunchly defended and supported is wrong and every body pulled from the ground did not have burial customs that prohibited science to understand them.
The law does protect the burial customs of Native American tribes, it also protects their place as the original indigenous people of the Americas, whether it is true or not. Since there is no evidence to prove otherwise (or you will go to prison,) how will we ever know the true history?
Just my 2cents, have a great day.