Exhumation vs. Excavation: The Armenian Genocide and Our Ethical Responsibilities


Records of human rights violations precede biblical times and have shown no signs of decelerating despite the contemporary measures taken to clearly define such atrocities. In the case of the Armenian Genocide, committed by the Ottoman Empire during WWI, the Young Turk government took great care as to restrict the publication of photographs and reports that would expose the widely condoned practice and to this day claim to have no responsibilty or knowledge of such occurrences.

The physical evidence obtained from the remains of victims that are exhumed from mass graves is delicate and controversial. We will discuss the various ways that archaeologists and physical anthropologists attempting to recover and restore historic memories that had been selectively recalled have undertaken a twofold endeavor; the exhumation as well as the excavation of mass graves. The initial and unarguably integral mission of these specialists is to identify the remains of individuals associated with human rights violations so as to be repatriated to family members. Secondly, the obligation towards collecting scientific evidence that is unable to be dismissed so that historic acknowledgement of the enormous human and material loss occurs. We will examine the nuanced process in which these endeavors are undertaken.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit http://www.tdar.org/SAA2015 for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Exhumation vs. Excavation: The Armenian Genocide and Our Ethical Responsibilities. Colene Knaub, Nicole Jacobson, Kate Flor-Stagnato. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397908)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;