SKELETONS of victims of the Mary Rose shipwreck could be put back together thanks to scientists who have made a digital catalogue of the human remains.
More than 10,000 individual bones were found in the wreck of the Tudor warship off the coast of Portsmouth during excavation between 1979 and 1982, but so far, only 92 skeletons have been assembled.
Now the Mary Rose Trust and Swansea University have begun a project to take detailed scans of the bones and make them available to researchers - and some to the public - in the hope that more individuals will be found and more details about their lives uncovered. The team has already discovered a carpenter, the cook, a gunner and several officers and archers. But they are still looking for key members of the crew, such as the captain, the surgeon and the boatswain.
So far 10 skulls have been photographed using a technique known as photogrammetry and are released online today. The goal is to create a virtual library of bones which can be manipulated and even printed out, so that people across the globe could try to put them back together, like a giant jigsaw.
Dr Alex Hildred, head of research and curator of human remains at the Mary Rose Trust, said: "If you get lots of people looking at these photogrammetry images and looking at bones you can compare them all really quickly. We hope to have a virtual population that people can interact with online, and that researchers hopefully will be able to help us rebuild more complete individuals."
The Mary Rose, which was the pride of Henry VIII's battle fleet, sank in the Third French War on July 19, 1545 with the loss of nearly 500 men and the ship's dog. The king is said to have watched horror-stricken as it went down. The Mary Rose was raised in 1982 and in the course of nearly 30,000 dives archaeologists salvaged around 19,000 artefacts from the site.
Research-grade images of the carpenter's skull and his possessions have also been made available to the public for the first time today at virtualtudors.org.