Paper Digital Humanities Australasia 2018

Skullbook: A Bone Library of 3D Digital Models of Animal Crania (97)

Renee Dixson 1 , Terhi Nurmikko-Fuller 1 , Katrina Grant 1 , Sofia Samper Carro 1 , Catherine Frieman 1
  1. Australian National University, Acton, ACT, Australia

Skullbook is a collaboration between the Centre for Digital Humanities Research and the School of Archaeology and Anthropology (SoAA) at the Australian National University. Its aim is to create a digital ‘bone library’ based on the SoAA’s reference collection of faunal skeletal remains. We report here on the production of 3D models of a cat, a coyote cranium and some of the unique Australian native species as a kangaroo and a wombat.

Skullbook will have an online Open Access (OA) resource distributed under a Creative Commons license to create the possibilities of connections between researchers, countries, schools, people, and ideas. The project itself provides an opportunity for diverse skills-based training for students in the Digital Humanities, from 3D scanning to managing data, constructing object records, devising the OA website, 3D printing, and contributions to critical evaluation. The final product will support teaching and research in SoAA through the creation of a free and readily accessible resource that support teachings and research: students and researchers will be able to engage in close analysis of the models without the limitations imposed upon them by the quantity of available bioarchaeological specimens or their fragility.

In this paper, we will focus exclusively on the process of creating the 3D digital models. Two distinct workflows with different softwares and techniques have been utilised thus far: a largely manual process of photogrammetry, using Photoscan software; and a near-completely automated process using the RangeVision Spectrum 3D scanner. We report on the strengths and limitations of these different methods, and present examples of the models to an external audience for the first time.