Who Should Own Dead Bodies?

From: N
Sent: Friday, August 30, 2019 5:09 PM
To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>
Subject: Libertarian Archeology

Dear Dr. Block,

What is the libertarian position on taking items from graves, more specifically taking items from very, very old graves as is done in archeology?

Thank you for your time and help, N

Dear N:

I don’t think the cut off point between being able to dig into old graves, and taking stuff from them hinges on their age, although there is a correlation. I think that the cut-off point is, does someone still claim ownership of them? If so, then they are private property, and off limits to archeologists, and grave robbers. If not, then they are fair game for homesteaders of these properties. Of course, the older is the grave, the less likely it is that there is an owner of it.

So, presumably, archeologists who dig into graves hundreds, thousands of years old are acting compatibly with libertarian private property rights, but not those who interfere with newer graves, not because they are newer, but, because they (still) have owners.

Best regards,



3:04 am on September 25, 2019