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The Forensics of Commodification: Examples from Louisiana of the Acquisition, Analysis, and Legal Problems Related to Trophy Skulls Seized from Illegal Sales

Author(s): Ryan Seidemann ; Christine Halling

Year: 2015

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Summary

Since the inception of the Louisiana Department of Justice’s human remains acquisition program in 2007, two Tibetan kapalas have been recovered from illegal sales. This commodification of human remains constitutes technical violations of the law, but the nature of the remains makes for an awkward fit to the existing laws. The forensic, bioarchaeological, and cultural analysis of these remains are difficult due to their altered nature, leading to problems of disposition. Questions inherent in the disposition of these remains include: have these human remains been ritually transformed into religious relics to which the law forbidding remains trafficking no longer applies? if such law does apply, what is a proper disposition of such remains? These questions and a review of the two acquired specimens are the subject of this presentation.

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The Forensics of Commodification: Examples from Louisiana of the Acquisition, Analysis, and Legal Problems Related to Trophy Skulls Seized from Illegal Sales. Ryan Seidemann, Christine Halling. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395384)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America