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VCU Archaeology

I’m part of something helping save valuable historical and archaeological information for future generations to come

by Natasha Cote, Spring 2015 Intern

Scanning a skull

Scanning a squirrel skull

My name is Natasha Cote, and I am an Anthropology student at Virginia Commonwealth University. I started interning at the Virtual Curation Lab (VCL) at VCU run by Dr. Bernard K. Means in January 2015. When I started my internship I hoped to learn more about the process of 3-D scanning and printing. I was also very interested to learn about the artifacts that came through the lab, and the educational outreach VCL is a part of. I’ve learned so much these past months and gained many viable skills. I’ve learned the entire process of 3-D printing and scanning, from editing, animation, cataloging artifacts, and painting replicas. It’s great to feel like I’m a part of something that’s helping to save valuable historical and archaeological information for future generations to come! I’ve mostly enjoyed painting realistic replicas of artifacts. I’ve been able to combine two things I enjoy the most, art and archaeology.

3D painted and printed sturgeon scutes from Jamestown.

3D painted and printed sturgeon scutes from Jamestown.

For my research at the VCL I have been looking into 3-D facial reconstruction technology. I’ve been comparing the tradition ways of facial reconstruction, versus 3-D facial reconstruction. Through my research I’ve found that 3-D facial reconstruction is extremely accurate, and gives the individual less of an artistic license versus the tradition clay molding process. 3-D facial reconstructions also allow you to print busts of the reconstructed face. I’ve theorize these 3-D busts could be used for education purposes as well. You can 3-D print Neanderthal busts/ and full bodies in order to help educate the public about our past ancestors, and our similarities and difference. You could use 3-D busts from historic sites like arrow point boy or Jane from Jamestown. Not only are 3-D facial reconstructions more accurate and can help in the field of forensics, I also think 3-D facial reconstructions can help with education, and allow the public to see a face to connect to. In the lab I’ve been able to see and have access to a forensic reconstructed bust of a women from an African burial ground as well as Neanderthal busts.

A painted replica adjacent to a real artifact--in this case, a net sinker made of steatite from Pennsylvania.

A painted replica adjacent to a real artifact–in this case, a net sinker made of steatite from Pennsylvania.

In general my internship at the Virtual Curation Lab has been great, and I hope to continue to work with the VCL as well as Dr. Means to continue to preserve artifact and information for future generation. The Virtual Curation Lab has given me numerous skills vital to today’s world where 3-D printing is becoming more and more common. This internship has given me a way to be involved as a student within the school as well as with the numerous institutions that work with the Virtual Curation Lab.

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