Researchers from Swansea University in Wales have reconstructed the face of a man they believe served as an elite archer to Henry VIII in 1545. The remains of the man were pulled from a sunken warship called The Mary Rose along with about 90 other skeletons.
The reconstruction began with a 3D scan of the recovered skull. "The key objective was to produce a replica of the skull, but without damaging it," said Nick Owen, a sport and exercise biomechanist at the College of Engineering that spearheaded Swansea's efforts.
In order to avoid using the real skull during the reconstruction efforts, Swansea University's Astute group took the scan and used a 3D printer to create a life-size reproduction of the skull. From start to finish the printing process took 48 hours.
The Swansea team then asked Swedish forensics expert Oscar Nilsson to help rebuild the archer's facial features. Nilsson regularly works with law enforcement officials to reconstruct the faces of unrecognizable crime victims. Slowly, one layer at a time Nilsson worked on the man's face, beginning with the underlying muscles.
The unknown man is believed to have been an archer because his skeleton shows damage consistent with repeatedly pulling a long bow. His remains were found alongside an ivory armguard, a silver ring, and a pewter plate, leading scientists to believe that he may have held a rank in Henry VIII's army.
"This is a face of an ordinary man, albeit in a crack regiment, and he hasn't been seen for almost 500 years," said Owen. "Thanks to 21st century technology and expertise we can bring him vividly back to life and understand more about his world."