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VCU Archaeology

Dispatch from the Virginia Museum of Natural History, Day 2: Pigs without Faces, T. Rex, and Barred Owls

by Bernard K. Means, Director

The fiendish cold spell that has gripped the nation led to a two-hour delay for the opening of the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH), but fortunately Curator of Archaeology Dr. Elizabeth Moore agreed to stay after hours so we could continue our scanning of faunal remains and study collection materials.  We finished scanning one butchered cow humerus from the James River Canal site( 44HE578) at the start of our visit, and then turned to a butchered cow rib from the same site.  We then scanned a butchered bone from the Golden Ball Tavern site (44PG439).  These butchered bones will enable us to compare various butchering techniques from different time periods.

Scanning a butchered cow bone from the James River Canal site.

Scanning a butchered cow bone from the James River Canal site.

We next continued our work on expanding our digital zooarchaeological collection, first scanning a chicken femur and then the femur and cranium of a barred owl.

Scanning the cranium of a barred owl.

Scanning the cranium of a barred owl.

While the NextEngine 3D scanner gathered digital data, Mariana Zechini and Rachael Hulvey learned various aspects of collections management in terms of archaeological collections.  Dr. Moore introduced them to the system used at VMNH.

Rachael (left) and Mariana learn some valuable collections management skills.

Rachael (left) and Mariana learn some valuable collections management skills.

I used the Sense 3D scanner to see how well it could record casts of footprints on display, including a Tyrannosaurus rex footprint and the track made by the hind foot of a Jefferson’s Ground sloth (Megalonyx jeffersonii), a type of extinct giant ground sloth.

Scan of a Tyrannosaurus rex footprint cast.

Scan of a Tyrannosaurus rex footprint cast.

We closed out the day by scanning a butchered pig cranium that had its face removed.

Butchered pig cranium.

Butchered pig cranium.

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