Friday, August 8, 2014

Guest Blog by Professor Andrew Nelson: On the Road with SA in the UK (Part 3, final installment)

Interested in how research projects and collaborations are established and executed? This is the final blog post in our series of three that has followed SA Research Associate Professor Andrew Nelson on a recent trip to the UK. Read Part 1 of the series here, and Part 2 here.

July 11th – Andrew took the opportunity to visit the Nikon Metrology Centre-of-Excellence in Tring. Tring is about 40 minutes by train north of London. This is where the microCT scanners - including our own! - are assembled, and where Nikon offers inspection services using their line of scanners. Andrew Ramsey, a CT Specialist at Nikon, showed Andrew N. around, and patiently tolerated a barrage of questions about the inner workings of the CT Pro reconstruction software.  Andrew R. was part of the team that scanned the amazing 'mechanism' from the Antikythera shipwreck - and has lots of experience scanning interesting things!  

CT scanners being assembled at Nikon Metrology in Tring, England.
 July 12th – Andrew visited the incredible block-buster exhibit at the British Museum entitled “Ancient lives:new discoveries”, featuring 8 Egyptian mummies [Andrew being a mummy expert himself - Ed.].  The exhibit features CT scans and detailed examinations of each individual, highlighting the story of their lives and how they were treated in death. Many of the exhibits included the ability for the visitor to interact with the scans – either rotating the views, cutting through the mummy or otherwise highlighting specific features. In many ways the exhibit was quite simple, but the visitors were enthralled.  This might be an interesting way to exhibit the scans of the prayer beads at the AGO!

July 14th – Scan day.  Andrew linked up with Annie Kemkaran-Smith, to scan two objects from the Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House Museum in Greenwich. Annie is the Curator (Art Collections) of the National Collections Group with English Heritage, London. As such, she is the collections curator for Down House (Darwin’s home), Eltham Palace and Ranger’s House.

The objects were a small prayer bead and a miniature boxwood coffin – a memento mori (see an example of a very similar coffin at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, here).  The scans are pretty amazing – particularly the coffin!  It will take a lot of work with the analytical software to segment it into separate elements. We will demonstrate this work in a future blog post.

That was it for the bead and CT related work on this trip.  It was a pretty eventful few days!  We’ve got some more scanning planned at home in London, Ontario and the triptych with the Detroit Institute of the Arts to do – so lots more to come. Watch this space!

Thanks, Andrew, for sharing your adventures with us. It's been interesting to see where our microCT scanner was built, and the sorts of work researchers in the UK are doing with similar equipment. We are certain the trip has inspired research for both you and future students in the Anthropology Department at Western. We look forward to seeing your research and collaborations blossom here at SA: Western, and we're thrilled to be a part of this story!

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