Mar 24, 2016 | By Tess

Just one year ago, the remains of British King Richard III, which were discovered buried in a car park in Leicester, England, were reinterred, more ceremoniously, at the Leicester Cathedral. To mark the one year anniversary of the reinterment, the archaeologists and researchers from the University of Leicester who discovered the King’s remains have created an interactive 3D model of the original gravesite that people can explore and investigate themselves from their very own computer.

The digital 3D model, which is being hosted through 3D modeling platform SketchFab, was captured using the process of photogrammetry and Agisoft’s Photoscan software. The fully rotatable and zoomable 3D model clearly and accurately demonstrates the rather inelegant way the 32-year-old King’s body was disposed of. For those unfamiliar with the monarch’s reign and legacy, King Richard III, who was the subject of Shakespeare’s (albeit fictional) play Richard III, was the last Plantagenet King of England. The King’s reign, which began in1483, lasted only two years when he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth fighting against King Henry VII’s forces. As made evident through the state of his gravesite, which possessed no coffin, no shroud, no jewels, and was even dug too small for the King’s body, Richard III’s burial was not a very dignified one.

The gravesite itself was uncovered in 2012 by a team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS), and just a year later, after many DNA tests and extensive research, the find was confirmed to be the body of the 15th century King, now dubbed “The King in the Car Park”. The 3D model made public by the University depicts the King’s skeleton as it was found in the car park.

Matthew Morris, Site Supervisor for ULAS explains of the discovery, “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."

Matthew Morris at dig site

The 3D model of the King’s skeleton allows viewers to examine and understand not only how roughly he was buried, but also his scoliosis afflicted back (an inspiration for Shakespeare’s famously hunchbacked Richard III?), as well as the fatal wounds he suffered in the Battle of Bosworth.

“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.,” explains Morris. “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.”

Digital 3D models have in recent years helped not only researchers, but also the public, to better visualize and understand a number of significant historical artefacts. Just yesterday, for instance, we wrote about Cambridge University Library’s unveiling of their 3D model of a 3,000 year old oracle bone, which marked a triumph for publicly available digital files. As museums and institutions slowly begin digitize their collections and increasingly make them open-source, our wealth of knowledge of this world and its history will be sure to grow. To explore King Richard III's grave site, check out the 3D model below:




Posted in 3D Scanning



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