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VCU Archaeology

Rocky Raccoon: An Independent Study in Zooarchaeology

Mariana Zechini, Intern

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Scanning a raccoon humerus!

This fall, I am doing a zooarchaeological independent study under Dr. Bernard K. Means. Specifically, I am scanning a raccoon skeleton courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, with the exception of the skull, which is on loan from the California University of Pennsylvania. I am working on scanning each of the bones of the raccoon (which I have dubbed “Rocky the Raccoon”) and then making an exhibit that talks about the applications of three-dimensional scanning on zooarchaeology.

So how does virtual archaeology affect zooarchaeology? The advantages of 3D scanning are numerous; one of the most popular being that it omits travel time and expenses needed to visit the site where a certain artifact resides. In the field of zooarchaeology, however, three-dimensional models of faunal remains would be useful on-site to identify certain remains by having a model to compare them to. Three-dimensional models can also show small marks on artifacts to help archaeologists understand the material (for example, bone) better.

So far I have scanned a wide range of bones including long bones such as a femur and a humerus, the mandible, the skull, a foot, the pelvis, the baculum and a lumbar vertebra. I am planning on scanning the rest of the raccoon skeleton by the end of the semester and incorporating some of the 3D images in my exhibit and hopefully using other plastic replicas such as a turkey radius that was being used to make bone beads. This project is just one of the many examples of how virtual archaeology can be used to benefit educators and promote the education of 3D scanning.

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A raccoon mandible

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