Geo Week News

July 29, 2015

Skeletons in 3D

Jamestown Skeletons

From this article at the Smithsonian, the time it takes for the institution to make an archaeological discovery and then release  3D models to the public online keeps getting shorter.

While digging at the church where Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married in Virginia’s historic Jamestown colony, archaeologists discovered the “skeletal remains” of four early settlers. Since about 70% of each skeleton was missing, the team put through a series of high-tech tests (like high-res micro-CT scanning) to discover their sexes and approximate ages at death. Next, with some old-fashioned detective work, they cross-referenced that information against a “small list of prominent men” from the area.

They found out that the men are:

  • Rev. Robert Hunt, the chaplain at Jamestown and the colony’s Anglican minister, who died at age 39 in 1608
  • Capt. Gabriel Archer, who died at age 34 in 1609 or 1610 during the “starving time”
  • Sir Ferdinando Wainman, who came to Jamestown with his first cousin, the governor of Virginia, and died at about age 34 in 1610
  • Capt. William West, who died in 1610 during a skirmish with the Powhatan at age 24

Of course, the 3D Digitization Program Office scanned the whole site, creating a 3D model in the process. If you’d rather watch a 3D flythrough, just check out the video below.

Evidently the men died at “a turning point” in the history of the colony, and examining their skeletons may help “fill in the stories of their lives and contribute to existing knowledge about the early years at Jamestown” says Doug Owsley, division head of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

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