The Oyster Cove people attracted contemporaneous international scientific interest from the 1860s onwards, with many museums claiming body parts for their collections. Scientists were interested in studying Aboriginal Tasmanians from a physical anthropology perspective, hoping to gain insights into the field of paleoanthropology. For these reasons, they were interested in individual Aboriginal body parts and whole skeletons.
Tasmanian Aboriginal skulls were particularly sought internationally for studies into craniofacial anthropometry.
In one case, the Royal Society of Tasmania received government permission to exhume the body of Truganini in 1878, within two years of her death, on condition that it was "decently deposited in a secure resting place accessible by special permission to scientific men for scientific purposes." Her skeleton was on display in the Tasmanian Museum until 1947. Another case was the removal of the skull and scrotum — for a tobacco pouch — of William Lanne, known as King Billy, on his death in 1869.
Aboriginal people have considered the dispersal of body parts as being disrespectful, as a common aspect within Aboriginal belief systems is that a soul can only be at rest when laid in its homeland.
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... people attracted contemporaneous international scientific interest from the 1860s onwards, with many museums claiming body parts for their collections ...
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“The moral sense is always supported by the permanent interest of the parties. Else, I know not how, in our world, any good would ever get done.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)