Known as bioarchaeology, the scientific study of human remains from archaeological sites provides unique insights into ancient lives.
About human remains research
Analysis of the human remains in the Museum's collection helps advance important research in fields such as archaeology, social anthropology, human biology, the history of disease, palaeoepidemiology, bioarchaeology, physical anthropology and genetics.
The information and insight gained through the archaeological and scientific analysis of human remains is ever-increasing, particularly as scientific methods improve and develop, all of which continues to inform our understanding of past societies and can then be shared with museum visitors. This scientific analysis offers information that other archaeological sources usually do not provide, such as age-at-death, ancient diseases, diet, genetics and past burial practices.
In carrying out research on human remains in the collection, the Museum reminds researchers of their ethical obligations with regard to human remains. Researchers are expected to follow the relevant principles of the Museum's policy on human remains and the code of practice.
Scientific study of the British Museum collection
The Museum recognises the importance of making the collection available to external researchers.
If you want to study any of the human remains in the Museum’s collection please contact the relevant department. If your proposed study involves detailed study, measurement or sampling of human remains, you may be requested to submit a detailed application form. This is in order to safeguard the collection, and to ensure that all human remains are treated in a suitably respectful manner. All such requests are subject to a rigorous review process following a formal application procedure.
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