In the short term, the span of a lifetime, many of us would argue for privacy, and therefore against transparency. But history, the long term, is transparency; it is the absence of secrets. So we are quite merciless, as historians, when it comes to the secrets of the past, the secrets of the dead. We come to know them with an intimacy impossible in their day. It would be unthinkable for us to turn away from their secrets, to allow the Iceman his privacy or to not scan beneath the bitumen to recover an Egyptian priestess’s tattoos.

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