The Department of Anthropology is committed to an ethical and collaborative practice regarding the treatment, study, and use of human remains. Our main principles regarding the management and curation of skeletal collections and the use of human remains in teaching, research, and public engagement are as follows:

Collection Management & Curation

  • We work with descendant communities regarding the repatriation of remains, prioritizing their concerns and requests.
  • We provide optimal and appropriate storage for all human remains and avoid permanent modifications to skeletal remains (e.g., use of permanent markings for accession numbers).
  • We support the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and the Vermillion Accord (from the World Archaeological Congress) and will abide by them in appropriate cases.
  • We follow the ethical codes regarding human remains as outlined in our respective professional associations (e.g., American Association of Biological Anthropologists, American Anthropological Association, Human Biology Association, Society for American Archaeology).

Teaching & Research

  • We inform students about the history of the use of human remains in anthropology and the proper handling and care in class and research.
  • We avoid use of unidentified/non-returned (forensic) remains as a part of teaching or research materials whenever possible.
  • We receive consent and/or enact collaborative partnerships with descendant communities, institutional stakeholders, and/or research affiliates.
  • We use non-invasive or minimally destructive sampling methods whenever possible.


  • We avoid unnecessary images of real human remains in public-facing work.
  • We avoid use of real human remains in public engagement work whenever possible.

Please contact the department chair ( if you have any questions.