Wednesday, 22 August 2018
Ancient Moral Dilemma
I always look for antiques when I visit car boot sales. Something a little older than my mother-in-law and perhaps more valuable. On this occasion I bought an urn, or jar, for about £5. It is a foot high with a lid. It is made of either porcelain or some glazed terracotta. The lid was stuck tightly to it. When I got home I left it in the garage and forgot all about it.
A few weeks ago I took it to an antique dealer friend of mine for a valuation. He said it was ancient, older than my mother-in-law, and indeed very valuable. Far more than the £5 I paid for it.
Following his advice, when I got home I managed to ease the lid off without damaging it or the vase, or urn.
To my surprise, the urn was filled with a dark grey powdery substance. It was not sand; much finer than sand. Some people have suggested that it might be ashes.
You are way ahead of me, friends. It is most probably the ashes of a deceased person or persons. Or indeed it could be the ashes of something else, a favourite animal perhaps. A pet dog, or a horse or ... I don't know.
The question is: What do I do with it?
I can hardly send it to a lab for examination and analysis. How much would that cost?
I could empty the jar in the bottom of my garden, or in the woods, or the trash bin before it is emptied once a week. Is this dignified do you think?
I could bury the ashes somewhere, or spread them in the cemetery, or somewhere else, on the beach perhaps, and say a prayer whilst doing so. But I don't even know who it is. A man? A woman? A horse?
The urn is very old, what if the ashes belong to some ancient famous person and DNA tests could identify him or her? What if the ashes are more valuable than the urn?
What would you do in this situation?