One of the archaeological highlights of last year pertained to the identification of the remains of King Richard III, the English monarch who only ruled from 2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485, and died at a young age of 32 at Battle of Bosworth Field, which marked the last decisive encounter in the War of the Roses. Historically, this made Richard III the last English king to die in battle on home soil. However in spite of his regal credentials, his corpse was buried quite unceremoniously in Leicester. And even his original tomb was possibly ransacked during Reformation, and many then-after believed that his remains were lost forever due to rumors of their disposal along the River Soar. But modern archaeologists were not really convinced of such hearsay, and thus in 2012 they were able to locate the spot where Richard III’s remains were probably buried. And finally researchers from University of Leicester successfully identified Richard III from the excavated remains – with the aid of technologies such as radiocarbon dating and mitochondrial DNA analysis.
3D interactive reconstruction of King Richard III is now made accessible for all
So back in March 26th, 2015, the remains of the English monarch were ceremoniously re-interred by the authorities at Leicester Cathedral. And to mark this one year anniversary, experts from the University of Leicester have created a navigable interactive menu that allows you to browse through a fully rotatable computer model of the king’s remains as they were found in 2012. This precise 3D reconstruction was made with the help of an advanced photogrammetry software, along with actual photographs that were taken during the excavation project. The navigable part is made accessible via the 3D sharing platform Sketchfab. As Mathew Morris, Site Supervisor for University of Leicester Archaeological Services, and the man who was the first to discover the remains of King Richard III, said –
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. 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.
Interestingly, the accurate 3D model of King Richard III’s remains also gives some insights into the irreverent way the monarch was buried. For example, the hastily dug grave was not deep or big enough for the corpse, while its base was uneven along with oddly slopping sides. The badly conceived makeshift grave didn’t allow for the entire body to be laid in its full length. So we see the corpse precariously made to pose to one side, while its head is forcibly propped up to make room inside the grave.
Lastly, it should be noted that such derisive burying techniques also mirror the gruesome manner in which King Richard III met his death on the battlefield. According to some almost-contemporary accounts, the killing blow came from a halberd that made such an impact that its drove the king’s helmet into his skull. Modern day analysis have revealed that the young monarch received 11 major wounds, with eight of them to the skull – including a blade weapon that probably hacked away at the rear part of the head.