Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Civil War Skull...the (Near) Triumph of Capitalism

The Civil War is not quite over for this possible soldier....

Image credit local TV station WGAL-TV

From earlier this week, a huge local controversy about the possible auction of a skull purportedly from the battle of Gettysburg (via ABC 27):

GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) - The planned auction of a skull reportedly that of a Civil War soldier found at Gettysburg has been cancelled following protests, and officials say the remains have now been donated for burial with honors.
Estate Auction Co. of Hershey had listed the skull for sale at auction Tuesday in Hagerstown, Maryland. That drew protests from the U.S. Park Service in Gettysburg and many other people.
Gettysburg National Military Park and the nonprofit Gettysburg Foundation announced Tuesday that the remains had been donated by the auction company late Monday. After authentication, they are to be buried at the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg with full military honors.
The auctioneer said earlier that the remains were found in 1949 as a garden was being tilled on the Benner Farm in Gettysburg.

When I first heard about this, it was before the auction was called off.  The auctioneer was interviewed on TV and stated how he personally thought and recommended that the skull should be donated to the Gettysburg National Military Park for burial, but the owner wanted to auction it off.

I thought, you craven jerk--we are are talking about human remains, and you'd be OK with being the guy selling them?  I would have hoped he'd have recused himself for moral reasons...but I guess the profits to be made from the auctioneer's cut of the auction proceeds were too attractive to pass up.

Then I thought--as I once blogged about here (in a post called "Staying Buried...and Ultrarunning"), in thinking about the distinction between grave robbery and archaeology--how is that a skull can even be in the possession of a private individual?  Surely that should be illegal?

At any rate, the skull will now be tested by the Gettysburg folks to see if it is indeed Civil War era, and then reburied.

Rest in peace, I guess.

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