Getting to grips with 3D printed bones: Using 3D models as ‘diagrams’ to improve accessibility of palaeopathological data

Stephanie Evelyn-Wright, Alex Dickinson, Sonia Zakrzewski


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This short report details a sub-project of ‘Stories through Skeletons’ an interdisciplinary venture undertaken by the Osteoarchaeology and Bioengineering departments at the University of Southampton. As part of this project, the team has been exploring the potential of using 3D printing technology to improve accessibility of palaeopathological data to a wider audience, through the production of tactile aids. To test this idea, models were created of Langer type mesomelic dwarfism exhibited in a skeleton from the Romano-British cemetery site of Alington Avenue, Dorset, UK. The 3D models were used as props during osteoarchaeology conference presentations and have proved useful to visually impaired and non-disabled audiences alike. Methods used to create the 3D models and the feedback received from the preliminary showing of the models at conferences are outlined, including the development of the idea of the 3D models as ‘diagrams’. This highlights the creation of accessibility tools as another potential use of 3D technology in the field of osteoarchaeology and in so doing, adds the issue of accessibility to the ethical debates surrounding the use of 3D modelling technology in physical anthropology more broadly.



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Copyright (c) 2020 Stephanie Evelyn-Wright, Alex Dickinson, Sonia Zakrzewski

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