Reconstructing 500 Year Old Soldiers

Reconstructing 500 Year Old Soldiers

Heng VIII’s favourite warship, the Mary Rose, sank between the Isles of Wight and England in 1545, bringing its 500 crew members down with it. In 1982, the Mary Rose rose from the deep, with 92 fairly complete skeletons being recovered; 10 of them being sent to Swansea University for analysis.

When brought to the university for research, the team used multiple processes to reconstruct the face of the bowman, ranging from technology such as 3D scanning and printing to modern forensic and artistic techniques.

The research team says the key objective of reconstructing the face was to produce a replica of the skeleton without damaging it. In order to do this, the team used a 3D laser scanner to create an exact three-dimensional virtual replica of the skull and printed the digital file using a 3D printer.

After having a replica of the original skeleton, the team was able to conduct research, which lead to them discovering that the skeleton was one of a bowman due to the evidential repetitive stress injury of the arm consistent with pulling a longbow with a force of up to 90kg. The research team was also able to conclude that the bowman was of high rank, over 6 feet tall and he was in his 20s or 30s.

Nick Owen, from the university's College of Engineering, said: "Archers were the only professional soldiers of their day. So it is very likely that this is the face of one of Henry VIII's elite troops. We also know that many of Henry's archers came from Wales.

"What's so exciting is that we can reveal the face of a man who has been hidden from history.  We wouldn't have portraits of him, as we do for wealthy and powerful people from the past – for example we'd already seen the face of Richard III on paintings before his remains were discovered.

"This is a face of an ordinary man, albeit in a crack regiment, and he hasn't been seen for almost 500 years. Thanks to 21st century technology and expertise, we can bring him vividly back to life, and understand more about his world."

Watch the short video of the reconstruction process of the 3D printed skull below.





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