Mary Rose Shipwreck Victim Lives Again in 3D

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September 18, 2016

An online exhibit uses 3D models to help tell the story of a doomed crewmember aboard the fabled 16th-Century Mary Rose.

The English warship, pressed into action against a French invasion in 1545, sank so quickly in the Solent that most of the hundreds of soldiers and crew onboard drowned. The ship’s whereabouts were a mystery until 1971, and a nautical crew successfully raised the ship to the surface in 1982. A museum now showcases what remains of the ship and its inhabitants.

Of particular interest to the authors of the latest study was the onboard life of a carpenter; among the remains found were his skull, a shoe, a spoon, and several woodworking tools. The shoe, in particular, was in good shape still. In fact, scientists said that the leather was intact and that it wouldn’t take much for someone today to be able to wear the shoe reliably.

The research team used high-definition photogrammetry (a technique of making measurements from photographs) in the scanning and then used three-dimensional modelling to create the web images, among them an estimate of what the carpenter’s face would have looked like. Archaeologists have also been able to determine that the carpenter was suffering from spine arthritis.

A parallel study showcases the skulls of 10 other people.

The 3D modelling project has as a related goal to determine the efficacy of digital models in the study of archaeological artifacts. Using digital models could help archaeologists avoid damaging artifacts through human handling.

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