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3D images offer a virtual glimpse at objects found aboard the sunken Mary Rose

History buffs can now study the remains of sailors and artifacts discovered aboard Henry VIII’s sunken warship, the Mary Rose. From a carpenter’s skull to a mirror, rigging, and leather shoes, the high-quality, virtual objects bring to life the maritime experience, as it was known nearly 500 years ago.

“It’s very rare to have such a large group of surviving 16th-century human remains available for study.”

Virtual Tudors’ “Men of the Mary Rose: 3D” is collaboration between Swansea University, the Mary Rose Trust, and Oxford University, in which researchers imaged a handful of the thousands of artifacts on display at the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, England to create a series of high-resolution 3D models.

“It’s very rare to have such a large group of surviving 16th-century human remains available for study,” Professor Catheter Fletcher of Swansea University told Digital Trends. “The 3D photos mean researchers around the world can join in the analysis without worrying about the impact on the physical remains themselves — or indeed the need to travel to see them on site. We’re hoping to discover much more about the lifestyles and characteristics of these men — which in turn should mean new insights into Tudor society.”

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To construct the 3D models, researchers took thousands of images of various objects and used a technique called photogrammetry to stitch the high-resolution images together.

Henry VIII’s flagship warship, the Mary Rose, was a maritime marvel when it was built in 1512, sporting recently introduced gun ports that allowed the ship to conceal and reveal its cannons. When it was rebuilt in 1536, the ship featured one of the first uses of broadside cannons.

Historians disagree about what exactly caused the Mary Rose and her crew of 500 to perish, but she sank on July 19, 1545, while defending the country against a French invasion fleet. The ship was rediscovered in 1971 and was salvaged from the straits north of the Isle of Wight in 1982.