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Ship sunk four centuries ago virtually reconstructed In 3-D at Texas A&M

 

From TAMU Times


Sunk in 1606, the Portuguese merchant ship Nossa Senhora dos Martires is sailing again — in 3-D presently but perhaps one day in reality.

If the cyber-replicated vessel ever does hit the high seas, the way will have been paved by the research of a persevering Texas A&M University nautical archaeologist combined with the high-tech applied study of a graduate student well versed in computer-based visualization techniques.

The 3-D resurrection of the 17th century vessel, whose name translates to “Our Lady of the Martyrs,” is the handiwork of Filipe Castro, an associate professor of anthropology who grew up in Portugal, and Audrey Wells, who made the three-year project the basis for her master’s degree thesis in visualization sciences. Wells is now a freelance artist in Austin.

A unique set of circumstance brought them together, combining the work of two of Texas A&M’s best-known programs worldwide. Castro had been a civil engineer in Portugal’s Ministry of Culture, and been assigned to the ship’s excavation project.

Leaders of the project encouraged him to obtain a graduate degree in nautical archaeology, which he successfully pursued through the world-renowned program at Texas A&M, for which he now serves on its faculty.

Wells is a product of the Visualization Laboratory, a trailblazing program that incorporates computer-generated graphics and animation in particularly innovative manners. The program’s graduates are highly sought by Hollywood producers, among others who want state-of-the-art video graphics.

Their work is the basis for an extensive article published in the fall edition of American Bureau of Shipping’s publication, Surveyor, with a follow-up article posted on the website of the Department of Visualization in Texas A&M’s College of Architecture, which provides a link to the Surveyor article.

The model Castro and Wells produced is described in the Surveyor article as replicating the vessel “in its entirety, including full scantlings, internal construction details, outfitting and the sail plan, such that seakeeping, stability and other analyses can be performed.”

The meticulous work was accomplished even though only about 10 percent of the ship’s hull was ever recovered, meaning Castro and Wells had to reply heavily on analysis and interpretation — and applied visualization.