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Human Skull And Bone No Longer For Sale Following Ethics Outrage

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Human Skull And Bone No Longer For Sale Following Ethics Outrage

A human skull and thigh bone have been taken off sale after an ethical outrage about whether it’s OK or not to sell human remains.

Of course, there weren’t many strong arguments in favour of the sale, with the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland branding it 'unethical’.

Before we kick off, it’s absolutely legal to sell human remains so long as they’re not subject to the Human Tissue Act or any burial laws.

As these were ex-medical items, they don’t fall into either category.

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The items were listed for auction at Taylor’s Auction Rooms in Montrose on 5 May, but have now been withdrawn from the sale of Militaria, Domestic and Rural Bygones sale at the Angus auction house.

The skull - not this one - was part of a medical display. Credit: Alamy
The skull - not this one - was part of a medical display. Credit: Alamy

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland had asked for the items to be removed, stating that it’s ‘wrong to commodify people as objects’.

The removal from sale was confirmed on Wednesday (27 April), so they’ll be happy about that.

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A spokesperson for Taylor’s said that while it’s legal to sell such items, they had still been removed.

Salesroom manager Jonathan Taylor said: “Although legal to sell, and being sold by auctions throughout the UK, the relevant lots have been withdrawn from the auction.”

The skull was expected to fetch between £20 and £40 when it went under the hammer, which is a fairly depressing though, isn’t it?

It had been listed as ‘human skull, ex-medical display complete with springs and hooks’.

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The thigh bone – decide for yourself whether this is more depressing – was also an ex-medical display and was valued in the same range.

The society had also objected to the sale of a composite hip bone model, which was also formerly a medical display and expected to fetch a similar price.

There was also a human thigh bone - again, not this one - up for auction. Credit: Alamy
There was also a human thigh bone - again, not this one - up for auction. Credit: Alamy

Before the removal of the lots, Dr Simon Gilmour, of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, had said: “It is not illegal in Scotland to buy or sell human remains that fall outwith the Human Tissue Act or the laws regarding sepulchre (burial), but we believe it is unethical.

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“We support BABAO (British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology) in their statement on the issue.

"It is illegal to traffic living people, why would this change when someone dies?

“All human remains should be treated with dignity and respect, whether reburied or dealt with as per their personal wishes.”

Either way, the lots have been removed and won’t be sold.

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It remains to be seen what happens to them next.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: UK News, Weird, Money

Tom Wood
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