Archive for February 5th, 2013

Details from the Richard III press conference

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Pardon my ongoing obsession, but yesterday’s press conference went by so quickly and the materials flashed on the screen for a second at most. I missed a lot of the details while typing furiously, and even if I hadn’t been multitasking it still would have been too fleeting to satisfy my craving for details on the archaeology, history, genealogy and science. Thankfully, the University of Leicester has put much of the materials and speakers’ notes from the press conference online.

They go through the presenters pretty much as they appeared, starting with lead archaeologist Richard Buckley’s evidence from dig site. The PowerPoint presentation that was on the screen behind him during the press conference is linked at the top of the page, but it was too big for Chrome to launch it online so I made a pdf version you can see here.

Next comes osteoarchaeologist Dr. Jo Appleby’s evidence on forensic analysis of the bones. Her supporting presentation can be downloaded here.

Then Professor Lin Foxhall discusses the historical sources for Richard III’s appearance and character. PowerPoint slides from her presentation are here, but they’re basically a title slide and a blurred pullquote from a medieval source. Not tremendously illuminating.

On to genealogist Professor Kevin Schürer and geneticist Dr. Turi King who explain the importance of locating modern descendants of Richard’s family in order to confirm the identity of the skeleton through DNA testing, the process of sample extraction and the results. Dr. King’s PowerPoint presentation can be viewed here, Professor Schürer’s here.

Those are the presentations I particularly wanted to see because even though they’re only a couple of slides each, they’re packed with information that I couldn’t even begin to read on the live video feed. The comparison of all three mtDNA samples and the list of female descendants from Richard’s sister Anne of York to Michael Ibsen are delicious. EDIT: Professor Schürer’s list of female descendants has a typo. The year of Anne of York’s death was 1476, not 1467. She died in childbirth.

The entire collection of PowerPoint presentations from intro to conclusion is available for download here. I’ve also made a pdf version you can use if your browser balks and you don’t have PowerPoint.

The Channel 4 documentary, The King in the Car Park, will be made available online soon. Keep your eye on this page to find out when. For irritating licensing reasons, the video will only play for viewers in the UK and Ireland. *cough*unlock*cough*

It’s not much to tide you over, but this article from the BBC at least provides a little glimpse at the plastic model of Richard’s face reconstructed from the 3D CT scans of his sculls that was revealed in the documentary. He looks pretty much like he looks in his portraits, perhaps a little younger, with a prominent chin and nose. The model has been unveiled this morning at London’s Society of Antiquaries where it will presumably go on public display.

Far more satisfying is the collection of videos on the University of Leicester’s brand new Richard III site. This is the money video, in which Dr. Jo Appleby walks us through the osteological evidence pointing to Richard and Dr. Turi King explains the process of extracting and comparing the mtDNA:

The science pages are also not to be missed. There are details about the CT scanning, which turns out to have been micro-CT, a far more high resolution technology than the standard CT scan, and about the radiocarbon dating process and results. The osteology pages take you through every part of the skeleton and what the forensics say about it. Be sure to click on all the blue buttons at the top of the page to suck all the marrow, if you’ll pardon the phrase, out of the science. The spine page is my favorite.

Lastly, there are many lovely photos to peruse in the University’s Dropbox account:

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