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VCU Archaeology

Intern Profile: Scanning Skulls, Jamestown Field Trip, and More

Note from the Director: This is the third in a series of profiles of interns new to the Virtual Curation Laboratory this Fall semester. It was written at the beginning of the semester and here we near the semester’s end.

by Olivia McCarty, Virtual Curation Laboratory Intern

I’m a new intern at the Virtual Curation Laboratory. Already with the year just beginning the lab has been very busy, So far, I’ve tried my hand at editing some items, helped to scan a human skull, gone on a field trip to Jamestown, and I helped prepare for our library exhibit.

Scanning a human skull from the teaching collections of the Medical College of Virginia.

Scanning a human skull from the teaching collections of the Medical College of Virginia.

Scanning the skull was particularly interesting because with it being such an intricate  item we had to think about how we would position it on the platform to make sure that the lasers could pick up all the data they needed. This was my first item to ever help scan and it was pretty amazing that it was a skull. I was also very impressed with how much detail the lasers were able to pick up. As I watched the lasers move across the item the eerie glow that it created over all the pockets, divots, and features was amazing to see and I started to see the appeal of 3D scanning.

Bellarmine jar closeup.

Bellarmine jar closeup.

The appeal grew even more after going on the field trip to Jamestown. There we scanned two artifacts from Robert Cotton, including one of his pipes. As we let the scanner do its work we also were given a tour of a sample of their artifact collection by Merry Outlaw, who is Jamestown Rediscovery’s Curator of Collections, and a view of their outside archaeology operation by David Givens. The big thing we saw was Jane, who is the 14 year old girl found at the site and has cut marks on her mandible, giving evidence that there was cannibalism during the starving time at Jamestown. Another interesting find was all the different Bellarmine jars they had. These jars are a German earthenware that have faces on the shoulder and each one we looked at was different, hopefully next time we return to Jamestown we will be able to scan one of them.

I am getting the hang of scanning, becoming even more interested in learning all the different things the scanner can do, and am looking forward to the rest of the semester.

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