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A King is Revealed. What Happens Next?

February 18th, 2013

A King is Revealed.  What Happens Next?

William Sassorossi

           A University of Leicester (United Kingdom) archaeological team recently released results indicating the recovery of the late King Richard III, who passed away in battle in the late 15th century.  The skeletal remains were located using historical archival research of primary battle and burial accounts along with maps from the time period.  Using these tools, doctors using mitochondrial DNA from the skeletal remains were able to compare results with surviving family descendants to make a positive identification (Levine, 2013).  Prior to this testing, marks including scars from knives and larger weapons, indicating a violent death, were found on parts of the skeleton.  Also, a defined curvature of the spine all help identify the skeleton as King Richard III.

            To keep within the higher ethical standards archaeologists must adhere to, this information must be published and peer reviewed.  At this moment, this is still in the process.  Once completed, if the evidence holds true, a very interesting chapter in English history will be competed.  But what do future plans hold for the King?  Will there be work to conserve his remains for display for tourists or will there be a proper burial and interment?  At this moment, it seems the later will be the course, the remains currently in the care of the Leicester Cathedral.

            But consider the alternative.  A piece of English history has been uncovered and a great deal of information could be gleaned from the remains.  With the enormous financial undertaking already spent on this project, it could be useful for future endeavors to possibly profit from the discovery.  Creating a museum, to include other artifacts from this period for display, would both increase public knowledge of King Richard III as well as possibly fund future research projects.  The conservation of the bones as well as other artifacts found could greatly increase public awareness to a subject that many seem not to understand.

            Ethical treatment of the remains is a given. What is done with the remains may have lasting impacts on considerations for future projects.  A display of King Richard III’s remains may be considered unethical by some, but given the history of his gruesome demise, it could also be a nobler resting place among those interested in seeing him.  Donations and museum ticket sales would increase revenue for future projects at the University of Leicester, and the continuation of increasing the knowledge base of the public should be a primary goal of all those involved.

Levine, Alden Maler. 2013. “Skeletal Sleuthing Team Uncovered Royal Remains and the Story Behind Them,” http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/04/world/europe/richard-iii-body-science/index.html?hpt=hp_t1, Accessed February 4, 2013.

General Conservation

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