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Teesside University collaborates with Vindolanda to bring historical artefacts to life through 3D scanning

04 October 2021

 

A Teesside University academic will appear at the virtual launch of an online exhibition of Roman wooden artefacts to discuss how his work in 3D scanning and printing can make history more accessible and engaging.

Dr Rhys Williams, lecturer in Forensic Science
Dr Rhys Williams, lecturer in Forensic Science

The Digging up Memories – Making Connections online exhibition from the Vindolanda Trust will showcase Roman wooden artefacts and explore the connections that they have with people today.

The collection came from Vindolanda, a Roman archaeological World Heritage site at Hadrian’s Wall.

The 3D artefacts include a children’s toy sword, small pepper pot, wooden shoes, and an extremely rare wooden toilet seat and saddle stiffener.

Dr Rhys Williams, lecturer in Forensic Science at Teesside University, has worked with Vindolanda on this wood digitisation project to deliver 3D scans of the artefacts and encourage further public interest and engagement.

The 3D scans will be accessible on the Vindolanda website while the 3D prints will be on display at the Vindolanda site museum for visitors to take a closer look at.

Rhys said: ‘This is very exciting and makes me feel proud that all of the time, work and effort that we’ve been putting into this digitisation project is culminating in this online exhibit for anyone across the entire world to get access to.

‘The project facilitates a great level of human interaction, particularly if people can attend the museum. The 3D prints can be seen up close and played with in a hands-on approach free from the boundaries of glass cases.

‘It’s excellent that these fascinating pieces can be brought back to the public through digital technologies and really engage people of all ages and walks of life in an exciting part of our history while preserving the original artefacts.’

It’s excellent that these fascinating pieces can be brought back to the public through digital technologies and really engage people of all ages and walks of life in an exciting part of our history while preserving the original artefacts.

Dr Rhys Williams, lecturer in Forensic Science

Rhys specialises in the visualisation and presentation of archaeological material.

He previously worked with Vindolanda while studying for his PhD at Teesside University on a research project which explored new approaches toward enhancing the understanding and visualisation of archaeological artefacts and excavations, such as 3D scanning of ox crania used in target practice and elemental analysis of occupation layers.

Teesside University’s collaboration with the Vindolanda Trust can also be seen through the Teesside University Bioarchaelology research group, of which Rhys is a member, which investigates the preservation characteristics at Vindolanda.

‘It’s been fantastic to collaborate with the Vindolanda Trust again on this project and they’ve been so receptive and welcoming to us testing out new things as we try to get some deeper understanding of what is going on with some of the interactions at the site,’ Rhys added.

‘It’s been very valuable for both the University and the Vindolanda Trust as we have discovered new ways to bring these important historical artefacts to life and anything that we can contribute to developing public engagement with historical artefacts is extremely worthwhile.’

The online exhibition will be live on the Vindolanda website from 4 October until 31 December.