3D investigation of Ox crania used for target practice at Vindolanda

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    This paper explores the use of rapidly-developing 3D imaging techniques for recording ox crania and other artefacts recovered from Vindolanda. Amongst the rare collection at Vindolanda are ox crania with evidence of trauma suspected to be target practice resulting from Roman military occupations.

    An object is first imaged using a 3D scanner. The scan aligning and fusing process results in a single, textured 3D model that can be viewed without obstruction. Digital enhancement procedures can then be applied to prepare the digital model for 3D printing. This process results in high-quality digital and physical models of the object.

    When analysing skeletal material, 3D imaging enhances the quality of the bioarchaeological assessments by allowing plane-cutting views and precise measurements of the surface features. A combination of morphological analysis and physical fits of arrowheads recovered from Vindolanda confirm most the trauma in the imaged ox cranium as projectile trauma. The right anterior portion of bone was broken away due to the amount of projectile impacts separating it from the rest of the cranium. However, the lack of fracturing and extensive damage across all the trauma sites showed that relatively weak force was used. There were several additional impact sites that potentially matched a lancehead, caused from behind and likely made for holding the cranium up for targeting.

    3D imaging proves to be useful in a range of archaeological applications. The digital and 3D printed reconstructions can be handled by the public to effectively engage them with the complex information presented whilst preserving the archaeological record indefinitely.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2018
    EventTheoretical Roman Archaeology Camp - Vindolanda, Bardon Mill, United Kingdom
    Duration: 22 Sept 201823 Sept 2018


    ConferenceTheoretical Roman Archaeology Camp
    Abbreviated titleTRACamp
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    CityBardon Mill


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