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Human Remains in our Collections

National Museums Scotland is committed to treating human remains with respect and in ways that are culturally appropriate.

We hold collections of human remains that come from outside of Europe. These collections were made through a variety of archaeological, ethnographic and private collecting, including collections made in the colonial period. The human remains in this collection come from diverse cultures and time periods, including mummified people from ancient Egypt and Peru as well as artefacts made of or including human remains dating to within the last 200-300 years.

We've published a list of all the human remains from outside of Europe in our collection (.pdf). This list is accurate at the time of publication (2020) but will be updated as new research is undertaken. This list does not include objects that only have human teeth, hair and/or nails that can be shed during a lifetime.

Search our collections
For more information about all of these collections and more please search our online collections database.

All images of human remains except those that are wrapped have been removed from our online collections database. If images are required for research purposes please contact our Image Library.

National Museums Scotland will consider requests for transfer of human remains out of the collection as set out in our Human Remains Policy (.pdf). We've also published a list of all previous transfers of human remains to institutions outside the UK (.pdf).

If you require more information about human remains from outside of the UK in National Museums Scotland’s collection please contact Dr John Giblin, Keeper of Global Arts, Cultures and Design.

Dr John Giblin
Keeper, Department of Global Arts, Cultures and Design

John Giblin leads the European Decorative Arts, Modern and Contemporary Design, Asia, Mediterranean, Africa, Americas and Oceania curatorial teams.


Read more

Human Remains Store

What can we learn from the dead?

This series of short video presentations, delivered by experts working in the field, explore the different scientific techniques now available to study these collections, best practice relating to sampling, and the ethical debates around the appropriate management of human remains.

[Content warning: This page and linked resources contain images and descriptions of archaeological human remains.]

Archaeological Human Remains Collections

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