Nick Ford has written an excellent article clarifying his views on the matter:
Honouring the Ancient Dead': The Care of Elderly Souls and the Rights of Bone Fragments to a Quiet Life. Here's an excerpt:
We know little or nothing about nearly all long-dead people - and generically, what can one say of them? That - just to take one example - the Neolithics are the people who gave us climate change and soil erosion through deforestation and over-grazing? The ones who invented open-cast mining?
I see no necessity at all of according the right to treatment of ancient human remains that demonstrates this assumption that the remains of the long-dead are inherently worthy of the kind of romantic veneration advocated by HAD, but rather a question of its arguable desirability. I do not believe there is an epistemology of positive recognition of the long-dead, whether individually or collectively, and remains do not have rights, even if their deposition was accorded a high profile (often, quite literally) at the time. Has anyone ever heard of a patient suing a hospital for custody of an amputated limb, or a dentist for an extracted tooth? (And this, with an indisputable right of possession of the inanimate by the animate).