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Archaeologists create 3D interactive digital reconstruction of King Richard III’s grave found under a car park

Date:
March 22, 2016
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
The archaeologists who discovered and helped to identify the mortal remains of King Richard III have created a 3D interactive representation of the grave and the skeleton of the king under the car park.
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The remains of King Richard III were found by a team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester beneath a city centre car park in Leicester in 2012.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Leicester

University of Leicester archaeologists who discovered and helped to identify the mortal remains of King Richard III have created a 3D interactive representation of the grave and the skeleton of the king under the car park.

It is revealed today (Tuesday 22 March) on the first year anniversary of the reinterment of Richard III when the coffin bearing the mortal remains first emerged from the Fielding Johnson Building at the University of Leicester.

Following a procession through the county and city, the remains were handed to the care of Leicester Cathedral by archaeologist Richard Buckley and King Richard III was reinterred on 26 March 2015.

The team from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) has now created a fully rotatable computer model which shows the king's remains in-situ as they were found during the 2012 archaeological excavation.

Using photographs taken during the project, sophisticated photogrammetry software has been used to create an accurate representation of the grave and the skeleton.

The interactive model, which can be explored via the 3D sharing platform Sketchfab (https://skfb.ly/Kn9F), graphically reveals in a new and immersive way the minimal reverence with which the king was buried.

Mathew Morris, Site Supervisor for University of Leicester Archaeological Services was the man who first discovered the remains of King Richard III- on the first day of the dig under the Leicester car park. He said: "Photographs and drawings of the grave, whilst dramatic, are only two-dimensional and do not always best show nuances in spatial relationships that a three-dimensional model can.

"Photogrammetry provides a fantastic analytical tool that allows us to examine the grave from angles that would have been physically difficult or impossible to achieve during the excavation, and gives us the ability to continue to examine the king's grave long after the excavation has finished."

Archaeologists discovered that the poorly dug grave was not only too short for the king, but was messily dug with sloping sides and an uneven base. This made it awkward for the burial party to lay the body out neatly in the grave. Instead, it was left slightly slumped on one side with the head propped up because it would not fit properly -- physical evidence which fits with historical accounts which say that Richard III was buried without pomp or solemn funeral.

Mathew Morris added: "During the excavation in 2012 we took photographs of the skeleton from multiple angles to create a lasting record of how the king's bones were positioned in the grave before we exhumed them. These photos were not taken with photogrammetry in mind but the software is incredibly versatile and can be applied retrospectively to create this superb model."

Photogrammetry is used in a wide range of fields from topographic mapping to the movie and gaming industry and it is often used by archaeologists because it provides a quick, extremely versatile and cost-effective method of recording and analysing complex objects and surfaces using software that turns multiple two-dimensional digital photographs into a three-dimensional model. Under suitable conditions, the technique can produce geo-referenced results similar to those of laser scanning and can be applied to photographs taken during archaeological excavations, building surveys and laboratory conservation.

The software, Agisoft's Photoscan, looks for points of commonality in overlapping photographs of a single object or surface from which it can extrapolate a three-dimensional point cloud which can be converted to a polygon mesh. The photographs can then also be used to render the surface reconstruction to create a photo-realistic effect.


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Materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "Archaeologists create 3D interactive digital reconstruction of King Richard III’s grave found under a car park." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160322082152.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2016, March 22). Archaeologists create 3D interactive digital reconstruction of King Richard III’s grave found under a car park. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 27, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160322082152.htm
University of Leicester. "Archaeologists create 3D interactive digital reconstruction of King Richard III’s grave found under a car park." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160322082152.htm (accessed May 27, 2017).

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