3D Scanning and Design recreate 400 year old Plague Victim


In the late 1630’s a young English nobleman named Thomas Craven was killed in Paris, he had been infected with a strain of the bubonic plague, which at the time was known as the Black Death. The outbreak would kill thousands before it was subdued.  Nearly 350 years later, in 1986 his body was discovered in an archeological dig, where excavators found his body sealed in a coffin lined with lead, to prevent “leakage” from the plague.


Today, Thomas Craven is becoming rather popular in the city where he perished so many years before. Using modern scanning and 3D modeling technology, the National Centre for Prehistoric, Anthropological and Historical Research in Paris has begun working in collaboration with forensic artist Philippe Froesch to re-create what Craven would have looked like. Froesch uses different techniques to help him from how musculature would attach to the scull, and measuring the tip and the bridge of the naval cavity to understand nose length. He also uses various forms of reference such as a painting of Thomas Craven’s father, and hair styles of the period to help nail down hair styles and facial structure.


Froesch spoke about his process stating that “The techniques we use, all have sound scientific basis so we can be confident that the images we produce are accurate”. Forensic artists are being used more and more often to help re-create imagery from throughout history, and even working alongside law enforcement for criminal cases. Froesch claims that his work is “at least 80 percent accurate” and really, how much more reliable can you get after 400 years? You can see a video of Froesch’s process below, and leave your thoughts about what you think of his work in the comments section.

THIMMESCH, Debra. “3D Technology Helps French Forensic Artist Reconstruct Head of 17th Century Plague Victim.” 3DPrint.com. 3DPrint, 27 Jan. 2016. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.

Posted in 3D Printing, 3D Technology Blog.

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