3D skulls from Henry VIII's doomed warship placed online

September 5, 2016
The skull of a crew member recovered from the wreck of the Tudor warship the Mary Rose on display during a press preview of the new Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, Hampshire, southern England on May 7, 2013

British archaeologists on Monday published detailed 3D models of skulls and artefacts found on board English king Henry VIII's warship as part of a digital experiment designed to share knowledge of major historical finds.

One skull, reproduced in a fully interactive model, belonged to a carpenter on board the Mary Rose, the flagship of England's navy when it sank in 1545 as heartbroken Henry VIII watched from the shore.

"An abscess in his upper jaw meant he could only chew on the right side," said details on the website, www.virtualtudors.org. "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."

Relics from the ship, including the carpenter's tools, are also available for fellow archeologists and scientists to study on the website following lengthy work by scientists at Swansea University in Wales.

The technique is known as photogrammetry, using high-resolution 2D photographs to produce detailed 3D models.

"This digital resource enables researchers around the world to join the project and study virtual 3D reconstructions," said professor Catherine Fletcher.

"Once fully developed, this technology can be applied to many more historic objects, bringing them to an even wider community of researchers while preventing damage to the original remains and artefacts."

Restoration staff work on part of the hull of the Tudor warship the Mary Rose during a press preview of the new Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, Hampshire, southern England on May 7, 2013

The researchers captured 1,000 images of 10 skulls found on the ship to create navigable online models, which they hope other researchers will analyse to eventually recreate full skeletons of some of the 500 men who perished.

The Mary Rose fought three wars with the French but mysteriously keeled over and sank off Portsmouth on July 19, 1545, while fighting off a French invasion fleet.

After a six-year search, the legendary ship was definitively identified in 1971 and around a third of it was raised in 1982, watched live by millions on television.

The public can view a sample of the objects such as a mirror, rigging or a leather shoe on the Virtual Tudors website—a collaboration between Swansea University, the Mary Rose Trust and Oxford University.

Thousands of other artefacts are on display at the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth on England's south coast.

Alex Hildred, head of research and curator of human remains of the Mary Rose Trust said excavating the carpenter's cabin was "like stepping into a deserted workshop".

"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," he said, according to the Press Association.

Explore further: Study identifies prevalence of rickets among 16th century sailors

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