Sunday, June 1, 2014

Looking Into Richard

The saga of the bones of Richard III will not end any time soon, and the latest is a 3D print look at that remarkable spine of his.  The History Blog has an excellent .gif of the bones as they would have been in life (inside the late king), along with some thoughts and good links to further discussion.

This is a use of 3D printing that offers a look (if you will) at tools for both discovery and conservation.  The study of Richard's actual bones must be limited by their age and delicacy - and, of course, the fact of their uniqueness.  As artifacts go, the skeleton of an individual could not be more scarce:  there is only one Richard III.

We've seen mummies taken to pieces and study methods of the past which have damaged and even destroyed human remains and our ancient creations and possessions.  We've seen a hundred means by which the material of history can be lost forever - warfare, natural disaster, the simple accident of losing track of things through centuries.  We've seen false artifacts, hoaxes which sometimes drew into question the value or even the reality of those items of past times which have been misunderstood or subject to the varying value systems of prejudice.

Being able to study Richard's bones thanks to replication opens a wide array of possibilities.  Perhaps not all of them are positive, but this one is a little exciting.  The .gif, to be fair, might ook some folks out as it were.  But for me it's just a neat example of new technology with quite intriguing new uses for an area of study which might not have seemed obvious when 3D printing was developed.  Thanks again to The HB.

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