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The University of Southampton
TAG 2016 Southampton

S30. Visualising the Body

Session organizers:

Sarah Stark (University of Southampton, and Sonia Zakrzewski (University of Southampton,

Session abstract:

Novel methods of data recording have permitted complex imagery of the human body. These include the use of 3D scanning technologies, computed tomography, photogrammetry, and use of the synchrotron. Similarly, 3D printing and augmented or virtual reality also allow other aspects of the body (or bodies) to be viewed. This session will discuss the theoretical and practical implications of such technologies and how they elicit different mechanisms for analysis. But the very use of such technologies also has implications on our understandings of bioarchaeology, and especially the body in relation to other loci, such as the grave, the collection or the living population. For example, how might on-site laser scanning be used to better enable archaeothanatological study? The papers in this session will consider the effects of scale and practicality to such methods and, as such, hope to demonstrate the possibilities and potentials of such approaches to human remains and their wider contexts.

Contributor Abstracts:

Recording in-situ human remains in three dimensions: The application of digital image-based modelling in Bioarchaeology

Priscilla Ulguim (Teesside University)

The in-situ three-dimensional (3D) digitisation of human remains can provide accurate integrated digital records for bioarchaeological study, and methods are increasingly applied in fieldwork. This paper contextualises advances in computer vision which enabled the creation of 3D models from two-dimensional (2D) images using passive optical methods such as SfM-MVS. The presentation then explores developments on research projects applying these methods to model in-situ human remains and integrate the data. These include the Ridgeway, UK, Uppåkra, Sweden, Çatalhöyük, Turkey and Abreu and Garcia, Brazil. The case studies reveal that this method does support improved visualisation and data integration with rapid data capture and accurate models. However, applications require close consideration of issues relating to interpretation and objectivity, contextualisation, storage and the ethical treatment of human remains. To fulfil the potential of in-situ 3D digitisation for human remains, the paper argues that researchers should consider the purpose of its application, and in developing digital archaeological frameworks, promote improved integration, interoperability with critical consideration of the contextualised outputs.

Osteo-grammetry - using photographs to model large cemeteries in three dimensions

Jürgen van Wessel (Headland Archaeology Ltd)

Recent excavations at St Peter’s Burial Ground, Blackburn are the first to demonstrate the immense value of photogrammetry for recording human remains on a large scale. Photogrammetry is the process of using photographs to record objects in a measurable way. Recent developments have made the technique accessible and capable of high levels of detail in both geometry and texture. These attributes make photogrammetry very appealing to archaeologists and it can now be considered part of the standard recording toolbox. Practitioners of osteoarchaeology and forensics can benefit greatly from this method.

This paper presents the initial results of the individual photogrammetric recording of 2,000 burials. Both the on-site and post-excavation processes will be discussed, demonstrating why it was by far the most appropriate technique for this project. The benefits of a visually detailed and fully measurable 3d burial record are clear. The outputs have so far enabled a comprehensive re-stratification of the site, visualisation of the density and depth of burial plots in 3D, and the spatial plotting of a wide range of osteological, artefactual and demographic datasets.

It is concluded that photogrammetry is a mature technique and is an immensely valuable tool for osteological research.

Assessing Dental Wear: Can Different Perspectives Improve Age Estimates?

Sammy Field (University of Southampton)

Forming accurate images of past populations is a key aspect of archaeology, and through study of the skeleton an individual is bought back to life. Part of this process is establishing age at death by observing changes in the hard tissues of the body. One such approach uses the change in dental wear of the teeth. Over 50 years ago, Brothwell (1963) devised the most widely applied method using this technique. Since then new techniques for assessing dental wear have been developed, including using digital photography. This allows for a traditionally qualitative approach to become quantifiable.

This paper assesses what such techniques might add to the current methods for estimating age at death using dental wear. The method of Brothwell can obtain only limited information regarding dental wear; i.e. what stage has been reached. Digital imaging and other techniques can reveal more about this process by establishing the rate of dental wear and the quantifiable difference between stages. With the use of a preliminary dataset of Iron Age period individuals, it is possible to gain a new perspective of dental wear, and highlight the benefits of using these new methods alongside the current method. This then has implications for improving and adding to the existing technique for estimating age at death using dental wear.

Envisioning & En-purposing the Root? Assessing trends in morphology using μCT

Christianne Fernee, Alex Dickinson, Chris Woods, Martin Browne & Sonia Zakrzewski (University of Southampton)

Micro-Computed tomography (μCT) presents one of the only high quality non-destructive and non- invasive methods currently available, which allows full-volume visualisation of a 3D object. This permits high spatial resolution and high quality reconstructions, from which a whole host 2D and 3D morphometric analyses. Teeth are complex structures that have the potential to reveal a whole range of information regarding an individual, which can be enabled though the use of μCT.

In this paper a series of 136 permanent anterior teeth from Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Modern British individuals were μCT scanned. Whole tooth, enamel and dentine surfaces were extracted using a thresholding segmentation procedure, and were then orientated to enable the recording of 12 crown, root and CEJ measurements. Such measurements were taken both manually and by automatic computational landmark identification. Whole tooth, enamel and root surfaces area and volumes were calculated and dental wear was scored qualitatively following Molnar (1971).

The computational and physical measurement methods correlated closely (R2=0.86-1.00, Gradient=0.79-1.06) for crown and root diameters and lengths. The results agreed with established trends towards decreased wear score from archaeological to modern samples, and a positive odontometric trend in crown dimensions with time. Root length and surface area increased with sample age, but there was no correlation between root size and crown wear. Root size may correlate with occlusal loads due to food resistance, but was not linked, in these cohorts, to dental wear. These results, and their potential for better understanding of internal root stress, are evaluated in this paper. Furthermore, critique is made of the potential use of tooth root structure for understanding dietary ecology.

Visualising Morphological Variation and Sexual Dimorphism in the Distal Humerus

Vicky Owen (UCL)

3D scanning and imaging technology has revolutionised the way in which research can be conducted on human remains within the field of bioarchaeology and forensic identification. One such practical application of 3D imaging of human skeletal remains has been the subject of this research, undertaken as part of the taught master’s program through UCL Institute of Archaeology, which sought to understand morphological variance in the distal humerus and its propensity for sexual dimorphism. 3D scans of 50 humeral specimens were created using a NextEngine Laser scanner and Scan Studio software, housed within the IoA. Three trials were conducted to consider the application for 3D imaging and morphometric analysis to the study of sexually dimorphic characteristics and the proclivity for correct classification of remains, which is vital to the creation of a biological profile.

Landmarks for each trial were selected to assess the degree of variation seen on the medial epicondyle, the olecranon fossa, the trochlear “spool”, and the shape of the epicondyles. Measurements were first submitted to Generalised Procrustes and Principal Components Analysis in Morphologika, where the data was subsequently exported and analysed using SPSS subroutines. A one-way ANOVA and discriminant function analysis was conducted for each trial, revealing significant results in each. The average overall percentage of correct classification was >90%, with particular focus given to the observed shape changes seen in the angulation of the medial epicondyle of trial #3.

The study has provided a useful, if time-consuming, alternative to forensic and archaeological investigation where elements traditionally used for sex estimation are too fragmentary for analysis.

Subject specific modelling of the lower limb - case studies from orthopaedics and prosthetics

Martin Browne & Alex Dickinson (University of Southampton)

Advances in computed tomography (CT) imaging and hardware have resulted in data rich analysis of biological structures becoming increasingly accessible to researchers. Using statistical methodologies, it is possible to generate a large database of bones and teeth structures from a relatively limited numbers of CT scans. In the Bioengineering Science group at Southampton, we have exploited this capability to create libraries of bones and teeth, which have been used to ‘test’ orthopaedic, orthotic and dental implants using computational modelling. Further, we have collaborated with the Bioarchaeology & Osteoarchaeology (BOS) group to develop statistical models of historic teeth to identify characteristics that have changed with time, and to develop outreach activities based on the analysis of particularly interesting long bones. In this talk, an overview of these activities will be presented using a series of case studies.

3D imaging techniques applied to paleopathology: a rare forearm amputation from an Early- Middle-Age case study

Ileana Micarelli, Antonio Profico, Fabio Di Vincenzo1, Mary Anne Tafuri (Sapienza Università di Roma), Caterina Giostra (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), Giorgio Manzi (Sapienza Università di Roma)

The recent and rapid development of the diagnostic potential of virtual archaeology has provided innovative tools to manage and study skeletal remains, with 3D imaging techniques substituting physical interventions. The development of computerized technologies based on photogrammetry and CT-scan allow us to acquire, record, and process digitally relevant morphologies of important and, sometimes, unique remains. Moreover, these techniques can help to improve our knowledge of patterns of pathological lesions and their – seldom documented – healing in ancient skeletal collections. Here we present a case study from Povegliano Veronese, a Lombard necropolis in Veneto, Northern Italy. The site has yielded a large skeletal collection, dated from 568 AD (the first generation of Lombards in Italy) to the VIII century AD. Within the sample, the specimen labelled US-380, a 40–50 years old male, presents a healed lesion on the lower third of right forearm. This kind of lesion may be referred to as a Monteggia-Galeazzi fracture, caused by a fall onto an outstretched hand with forced pronation, followed by amputation of the distal part of the arm. Fractures and other bony lesions are frequently diagnosed on ancient human remains; nevertheless, this is to our knowledge the first case reported of this kind of fracture and amputation, which suggests a remarkable understanding of surgery in a pre-antibiotic era. The 3D reconstruction of the healed ulna and radio is obtained following virtual archaeology protocols in order to guarantee the best conditions to proceed in reconstructing the shape of the bone in bioarchaeological investigations.

Bodies of data: visualising citations in bioarchaeology

Sarah Stark, Mike Burgess & Sonia Zakrzewski (University of Southampton)

The field of bioarchaeology has a dynamic history of methodological and theoretical advancements that continues today. This paper provides an overview of the common methodological themes and limitations in the field of bioarchaeology through the analyses of a citation network.

The ease of publication access with reference citation tools like Scopus, one of the largest abstract and citation databases of peer-reviewed literature has made it possible to follow the evolution and development within research fields while viewing how specific contributions integrate with the field as a whole. This paper focuses on the growing evolution of bioarchaeological research from subfields of biocultural studies, stress and health, diet and nutrition, funerary studies, and functional and geometric studies. Although these subfields often overlap, references were categorized based on the overall findings and methodologies that contributed the most to each subcategory. There are over 900 references or nodes, spanning from the 1950s to the present.

Once harvested from Scopus, the publications were imported into the network analysis software Gelphi 0.9.1 where a directed bipartite network, an algorithm that calculates the direct interaction between two nodes, was constructed. The node sizes are based on how often the article is cited and the colour scheme is based on decade, subfield, and geographical region of the researchers. The citation network highlighted interesting trends of the more highly cited referenced as well as many isolated studies (or nodes) that had non-repeatable methodologies. This approach of ‘surveying’ the field of bioarcheology has tremendous potential for tracking the direction of the field and finding gaps in our current approaches and thus directions for future research.

Discussant: Simon Mays (Historic England)


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