Digital research techniques to help unravel Tudor mysteries as new Mary Rose project launched
For the first time human remains and other artefacts found on the Tudor warship Mary Rose are being released to a global audience as interactive 3D digital resources.
The images will be released on a website www.virtualtudors.org which will go live on 5th September with both a public and a research section.
These research-grade, highly accurate photogrammetry models of human skulls, together with a number of artefacts were generated for a Swansea University research project based in the College of Engineering, to assess whether photogrammetric images can be used by researchers around the world instead of the real remains.
While there are many projects that capture museum artefacts and rare collections digitally and make them available online, this project has created interactive 3D resources accurate enough for meaningful research to be gathered from the global research community.
The research section of the website will contain ten skulls from the Mary Rose which will be available to osteologists around the world, who will be encouraged to take part in this global research study in effectiveness of digital remains for performing osteological analyses. The images are of sufficiently high quality to enable researchers and osteologists to perform a digital osteological analysis of the skulls and complete a research questionnaire.
The public section will show interactive 3D models of:
• the skull of one of the Mary Rose
• a selection of his tools, including a wood-plane and a whetstone holder.
• Other objects from the Mary Rose, including one of only two wooden spoons found on board; and a beautiful carved wooden panel, which is also one of only two found on the ship.
Swansea University has partnered with the Mary Rose Trust and Oxford University on the project. Swansea University first started working with the Mary Rose Trust about 5 years ago on a project blending sports science and osteology.
This first project investigated the biomechanics of medieval and Tudor archery. The collaboration has developed over the years to include 3-D printing, molecular biology and imaging technologies. The current project has evolved directly from imaging studies used to quantify differences of physical characteristics of bones from the Mary Rose collection.
The carpenter who will be featured in the public project was found on the orlop deck, immediately below the Master Carpenter’s cabin with a number of woodworking tools next to him. A 2D reconstruction of his face has been created and an image of his face is on display within the Mary Rose Museum.
Analysis of his remains reveals that he was probably in his mid-to-late thirties. He was just over 1.72 metres tall (5ft 7 in.) and was a strong muscular man. His teeth were poor, with a build-up of tartar. An abscess in his upper jaw meant he could only chew on the right side.
He also had arthritis in his spine, ribs and left clavicle and a lesion across his right eyebrow which may be the result of an old wound. It is known from historical sources that a carpenter would be stationed on a deck below the waterline during battle so that he could repair any damage to the ship immediately.
Dr Alex Hildred Head of Research and Curator of Human Remains of the Mary Rose Trust said: “Excavating the cabin was like stepping into a deserted workshop – tools in baskets beneath a work-bench, half -finished projects, wood off-cuts – even the Carpenter’s backgammon set. Finding one of the carpenter’s second set of tools on the deck below allows us to look into the face of one of the most important members of the crew; and the ship comes alive.”
The skull images and how they were captured