In 1850, Josef Hyrtl recreated the iconic ancient Greek sculptural group “Laocoön and His Sons” using real human and snake skeletons.
It would be the first repatriation of remains to the indigenous people by a foreign country.
The Übersee-Museum Bremen and three other institutions are repatriating 59 Moriori and Māori ancestral remains collected in the 19th century.
The skeleton of 19th-century collector Robert Kennicott is on view in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History’s Objects of Wonder. The bones recently solved the long mystery of his death.
Reclining by a wine jug and a portion of bread, a cup in one bony hand, the skeleton on a 3rd-century BCE mosaic discovered in Turkey has a simple message for its viewers: “Be cheerful, enjoy your life.”
Active repatriation of indigenous remains in museums only gathered serious momentum in the 1980s.
Memento Mori: The Dead Among Us, a photography book by Paul Koudounaris out this month from Thames & Hudson, is a visual narrative of how a more visceral relationship to the dead thrives across the globe.
In a forthcoming book titled Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs, photographer Paul Koudounaris brings before his lens bejeweled skeletons long-lost in the catacombs of Rome.