A representative from the Digitised Diseases project (Emma, plus advisory panel member Rob Janaway) were lucky enough to get the chance to attend the Society for American Archaeology 78th Annual Meeting in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Foliage at the Hawai'i Convention Center

Foliage at the Hawai’i Convention Center

Emma was presenting some of the findings from her recently defended PhD, but was also on hand on the University of Bradford stand in the Kamehameha III Exhibition room to talk about Digitised Diseases. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with one tenured professor from a US institution telling us she was already using the 3D models from From Cemetery to Clinic in her teaching. Many undergraduate and postgraduate students also said they thought the project would definitely help them with their studies.

There were a number of digitisation projects and exhibitors at the conference, indicating the growing importance of 3D laser scanning in archaeology, for example we met representatives from the Center for Digital Archaeology at UC Berkeley and saw numerous use of terrestrial 3D laser scanning for in situ remains, for example a lovely project currently being undertaken at Çatalhöyük. 

Hawai’i is also home to the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Command Central Identification Laboratory (JPAC-CIL). Their civilian staff are tasked with the mission to conduct global search, recovery, and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts. The work carried out by JAPC-CIL is highly regarded by forensic anthropologists and archaeologists the world over. JPAC-CIL also run a highly regarded Forensic Science Academy which specialises in skeletal analysis.

Over the duration of the SAA conference, scientists from all over the world visited JPAC to present their research to the JPAC-CIL staff. Emma gave a 50 min presentation on the two JISC funded Digitisation projects that have been based at Bradford. The feedback was again really positive. A key part of understanding the range of normal human anatomy is to recognise pathological changes that may drastically affect the appearance of bone. Digitised Diseases should further aid the students at the Forensic Science Academy to observe pathological changes in bone and (hopefully) provide the more senior anthropologists with a valuable reference guide, in addition to key palaeopathology texts.


Image from JPAC Teams Facebook page (

The staff at JPAC-CIL made us feel very welcome and provided us with helpful feedback. It was an amazing experience and a real privilege to be able to see first hand the important work carried out in identifying American casualties from past conflicts.