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.
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.
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.
On Monday 4th February 2013, researchers from the University of Leicester revealed that the remains of an adult male found beneath a car park in Leicester were consistent with the remains of King Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.
King Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth field, the last significant battle in the Wars of the Roses, on 22 August 1485. One theory was that his body had been interred at Greyfriars Church in Leicester. Over the centuries the location of the church was lost until its rediscovery late last year.
The remains of the adult male buried within the choir of the church showed significant trauma to the cranium, consistent with fatal injuries sustained in battle and curvature of the spine (scoliosis) consistent with historical descriptions of King Richard III.
Dr. Jo Appleby, project osteologist at the University of Leicester, and Bob Woosnam-Savage, Senior Curator of European Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries, visited the Biological Anthropology Research Centre at the University of Bradford a few weeks ago to compare the wounds from the individual from Greyfriars with the skeletons that were found in a mass grave on the Towton battlefield in 1996. The Battle of Towton also took place during the Wars of the Roses, on the 29th March 1461, and is remembered as “the bloodiest battle on English soil”. The wounds sustained by those killed at Towton would have been consistent with the wounds King Richard would have suffered.
The best examples of cranial trauma from Towton are due to be scanned as part of the JISC-funded Digitised Diseases project, which will launch later in 2013.
Calvin Percival Bampfylde Wells (1908 – 1978) was an early pioneer of the study of palaeopathology. He was educated at Charterhouse and read Medicine at University College, London. He was a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and a fellow of the Royal Archaeological Institute, and studied anthropology under Grafton Elliot Smith. During WW2 Calvin served with the Royal Army Medical Corps.
After the war Calvin practiced medicine in Norfolk. During his career, spanning from 1955 until his death in 1978, he still managed to accumulate over 130 publications dealing with various aspects of palaeopathology (burials, cremations, mummies, non-human pathology, depictions of illness and surgical instruments in antiquity), as well as 50 skeletal reports for archaeologists. Charlotte Roberts and Keith Manchester’s biography of Calvin in The Global History of Palaeopathology (2012, Oxford University Press) highlights the importance of Calvin’s bioarchaeological and contextual approach to disease in the past, which is particularly evident in his 1964 book Bones, Bodies and Disease.
In 1984 Calvin’s voluminous archive was donated by Calvin’s widow, Freddie, to the JB Priestley Library at the University of Bradford, where it is curated to the present day as part of the Special Collections. Some of the archive (skeletal reports and offprints of his publications amongst other materials) is also curated in the Biological Anthropology Research Centre, where it can be used for teaching and consulted by students and researchers.
Yesterday I visited the Special Collections at the JB Priestley Library to view some of Calvin’s meticulous notes he produced during his career to research a future cross-over blog post between Digitised Diseases and the 100 Objects from Special Collections at the University of Bradford blogs. Calvin’s archive is fascinating. It contains handwritten notes, correspondence, drafts of papers and unpublished reports. The Special Collections also curates Calvin’s extensive book collection:
“The book collection reflects Dr Wells’ interests throughout his career, and is therefore relevant to those studying anthropology, medicine and archaeology, as well as specialists in palaeopathology. The books include works on early humans, on ancient civilisations and on archaeological topics such as frost tombs. The medical texts, which date from the 17th century to the 1930s, cover a variety of diseases and conditions, with a particular emphasis on obstetrics, osteology and diseases of the ear, nose and throat.”
I was particularly excited by Grafton Elliot Smith and Warren Dawson’s 1924 publication on Egyptian Mummies, and the complete set of the Handbook of South American Indians edited Julian H. Steward, published by the Smithsonian between 1940 -1947.
Reference: Roberts, C. and Manchester, K. 2012. Calvin Percival Bampfylde Wells (1908-1978), in: Buikstra, J. and Roberts, C. The Global History of Palaeopathology: Pioneers and Prospects. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 141-145
Follow Special Collection on Twitter: @speccollbrad
Last week, on November 1st, Digitised Diseases was one year old! We even had a cake to celebrate!
On October 30th (the day the above photo was taken) we held a project meeting in Bradford with representatives from MOLA (Natasha Powers and Don Walker) and RCS (Carina Phillips and Emmy Boceage) to discuss specimen selection. The London based laser scanner will be moving from MOLA to RCS before Christmas. The aim of the meeting was to discuss where we need to target specimen selection to fill gaps and to share best knowledge and best practice, based of our experiences over the last year.
The meeting was extremely positive, and showcased just how much we have achieved over the last year in terms of scanning and describing the lesions we are observing.
On Monday 17th September Royal College of Surgeons hosted a large Digitised Diseases meeting. Almost everyone involved on the project from Bradford, Museum of London Archaeology and Royal College of Surgeons, plus members of our advisory panel and our JISC program manager Paola Marchionni attended.
We had an hour of very short presentations from everyone, including some examples of video renders that out summer interns produced. We had tours of the Hunterian Museum and Wellcome Museum of Anatomy and Pathology. We had a group photo in the Crystal Gallery in the Huntarian Museum.
We finished the afternoon with a discussion and feedback from the advisory panel. The feedback was really positive, with the advisory panel suggesting they are excited to be able to use the 3D models in teaching with their students.
Dr Keith Manchester, co-author (with Prof. Charlotte Roberts) of The Archaeology of Disease, has been appointed Honorary Visiting Professor in Palaeopathology at the University of Bradford.
Keith has worked in Archaeological Sciences for many years, contributing to teaching and research, particularly in the field of leprosy and infectious diseases.
Keith is also the Bradford based clinical advisor for Digitised Diseases. He was previously a general practitioner in Bradford and is the author of numerous papers and books on palaeopathology.
(Image courtesy of Dr. Rebecca Storm)
Well, last week was a week of meetings. Very useful meetings.
On Wednesday (11 Jan) we met with Prof Peter Hartley, an e-learning expert from the University’s Centre for Educational Development. We talked about the outcomes from this project, and how we can maximise access to a wide audience and how we can measure how successful our efforts have been, which is something JISC, as our funding body, are keen for us to do.
Peter was very enthusiastic about the project and seemed genuinely impressed when we showed him some of the models from “From Cemetery to Clinic”.
On Friday (13th!!) we had a Bradford project team training day, that ran from 10.00 – 17.00.
Andy Holland and Tom Sparrow took the team through the bespoke management database they have produced for this project. I was blown away – they really have thought of everything! Andy Holland is also an experience Forensic Archaeologist and Anthropologist, something I think has been invaluable as he understands the needs of the Osteologist was well as the needs of a database to manage this kind of project. Tom and Andy have also written in QA mechanisms, so you can be sure that when you view a finished, textured 3D model and read the clinical descriptors (written by Drs Rebecca Storm and Keith Manchester), you know they have passed quite a rigorous QA process before going live on the web.
We also had a business meeting where we discussed more formal academic outputs and submitted an abstract for the Digital Humanities Symposium – Virtualisation and Heritage to be hosted at the University of York next month. Fingers crossed they accept our submission! Andy Holland is first author and will present the methods we used for “From Cemetery to Clinic”.
The last part of the day we all had training using the FARO Quantum laser arm. As a group we scanned a fantastic example of gout from the BARC teaching collection.
Scanning is a lot harder than it looks! We were pretty excited about our first group efforts (see below).
And our attempt. The different colours represent different scan passes.
If this was a real scan, it would now go on for post-processing. More about that later in the project.
Today Bradford hosted a meeting for the JISC project with representatives from our project partners. Natasha Powers represented Museum of London Archaeology and Carina Phillips represented the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
There was a lot to discuss. The agenda included process planning, determining criteria for specimen selection, standard terminology, progress monitoring, work flow targets, quality assurance, website design, use of social networks in dissemination, academic outputs and impact, digital archiving and sustainability, engaging stakeholders, and what role out advisory panel will play in evaluating the work and how their input can improve the finished product.
I think everyone came out feeling very positive about the project and eager to get started on the scanning phase of the project.
We also had a lovely lunch provided by Jaldi Jaldi.