For the very first time, skulls and other artefacts in the 1545 wreck of Henry VIII’s warship the Mary Rose are being exhibited online as 3D reconstructions.
Researchers from Swansea University unveiled the scans to coincide with the British Science Festival, taking place in the Welsh city.
The notion would be to see how much can be learned about the lives of the crew of the boat, just from their digitised bones.
A materials engineer at Swansea, Richard Johnston, said the job would examine the scientific value of digital archaeology – and the world’s burgeoning collection of cyber-artefacts.
“Bunches of museums are digitising groups, and a lot of the drive behind that is creating a digital copy of something,” Dr Johnston told journalists at a press briefing in London.
“We’re going to challenge the research community to see if they could actually do osteological analysis.
“Afterward we shall take the results from all over the world and try to compare those to a study that we did, where folks looked at the actual remains.”
The public web site virtualtudors.org, launched on Monday, offers an interactive view of one particular skull in the Mary Rose crew – that of a carpenter found on the boat’s lower deck – too as several of his possessions.
An independent, research-focussed section of the site will make a further nine skulls available to bone specialists around the world.