Human remains have been central to archaeological practice since the very beginnings of the discipline. Therefore, perceiving and labelling human bodily parts as human remains has a number of consequences. It entails particular ways of treating, using and displaying along with the recognition of ethical issues related with human dignity and the repatriation processes. While a large number of recent studies on human remains in archaeology have focused on the politics of identity, on the question of ownership, and on issues of conservation and their ethics, this chapter aims to explore three aspects: first, the epistemic practices of collecting and displaying human remains in archaeology. Why collecting and studying dead bodies was a key element in archaeology to the extent that it contributed to its disciplinary identity? The second aspect deals with the ways in which the study of human remains was informed by and informed nationalism, colonialism, and ‘informal imperialism’. Collections of human remains played a crucial role in the advent of national archaeological museums, in the development of archaeological campaigns in former colonies, and in the theoretical debates around the issue of race. The third and last section aims to analyse the diverse contents of the definition of human remains and its underlying implications - the notions of human dignity and of personhood. It seeks to examine the re-definition of anatomical specimens as human remains, the different conceptualisations of bodily remains, and the shifting status between what is considered as human remains and as an artefact.