Excavating Historical Corpses: Where’s The Line?

I’ve just stumbled on some weird arbitrary rule of mine. Time Team is on the telly right now and the archaeologists are digging up bodies in a naval hospital from the Nelson era. Something about that doesn’t quite- quite– sit right with me. Those bodies are a bit too close to me in time.

It’s a disquiet that increases the closer it gets to me: if they were digging up World War 1 bodies I’d be more uncomfortable. If they were digging up bodies buried in 1973 (to see if people were buried with their space hoppers and Rayleigh Chopper bikes presumably…) I’d be outraged.

The further I look back in time the less shocking it is, of course. Roman corpses and I’m at the front of the crowd gawping. Saxons? Bring it on.

So I’ve homed in on my line of comfort and it seems to be the Stuarts. The earlier Stuarts: English civil war, that sort of period. Samuel Pepys-era Stewarts and I start getting a bad tingle.

But why exactly? Whatever the period it’s still humans being dragged out of the affectionate holes their loved ones put them in with the assumption no one would desecrate their post-life dignity.

The answer is I really don’t know. But I’d be interested to know if the majority of people have a similar line of comfort.

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