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65,355 Shades of Scrimshaw

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Scrimshaw collections represent a unique cultural and biological archive of pre-industrial/industrial sperm whale populations; however, the rarity, collectability, and high value of genuine nineteenth century scrimshaw specimens has precluded meaningful scientific investigation. The multidisciplinary approach applied in this research allows for the analysis of scrimshaw artefacts beyond orthodox art historical methods, providing additional insight into the biological history of the whales caught. This presentation will primarily discuss the application of micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) as a non-invasive method for examining the internal structure of sperm whale teeth and scrimshaw artefacts prior to, and post, destructive sampling for biomolecular analysis.

This talk is part of the Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series series.

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