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From Cemetery to Clinic

From Cemetery to Clinic

Digitised pathological data from archaeological leprous skeletons

The project was based at the University of Bradford, and is the result of a fruitful collaboration between Archaeological Sciences and the Centre for Visual Computing.

The Project Team

Led by Dr Andrew Wilson, and including Dr Jo Buckberry, Professor Hassan Ugail, Dr Christopher Gaffney, Dr Christopher Watkins, Mr Andy Holland, Mr Tom Sparrow, and Dr Rebecca Swift

About Leprosy

Leprosy is a debilitating disease with a strong social stigma. Once common throughout the old world, it is still encountered in the developing world. The project aimed to digitise data pertaining to leprous medieval skeletons and clinical x-rays of modern sufferers in order to allow medical historians, palaeopathologists, clinicians and the interested public to observe and better understand the skeletal lesions of the disease, how they manifest across the skeleton and how they arise. This links to another aim of the project which was to inspire an emotional response from the wider public. This was achieved by offering people the change to come face-to-face with the realities of the disease and it provided the opportunity to gain insight into how people in the past may have responded to the social stigma of the disease.

3D Laser Scanning

3D laser scans of affected bones from the medieval leprosarium of St. James and Mary Magdalene, Chichester, alongside digitised x-rays of these individuals and those of clinical cases were disseminated via an interactive GIS cemetery plan and associated database, with pathological descriptions. The project required rapid digitisation to ensure the sustainability of this unique, but extremely fragile collection.

Results from our texturing team

Students: Tom Newbold, James Thompson, Patrick Garwood, and Toby Toochukwu; worked on cleaning the 3D scan data, surfacing, and texture mapping. Below are a few screen shots of a couple of the proximal phalanx bones from subject C88.