Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Anna M. Prentiss

Commitee Members

Randall R. Skelton, Bret W. Tobalske


3-D Crania, Microscribe


University of Montana

Subject Categories



This project tests the validity of the use of models generated with 3-D technology for the purposes of advancing craniometric methods in anthropology. The literature describing this technology as it is being incorporated and applied is focused on the classification of crania within population structure and evolutionary development. 3-D modeling methods create data that are static over time - as long as the collection and processing has a statistically insignificant impact on deviation from the original "true" sample.

This thesis is interested in the questions of data collection given variations between processing and metadata of 3-D models and uses data from crania recovered from cave burials discovered on Kume Island, Okinawa Japan. The collection has been captured in surface scans and by 3-D coordinate digitizer at different times by different researchers. Adapting 3-D scanning and 3-D medical imaging technology into anthropology is highly advantageous in terms of the quality and quantity of data that can be collected and shared. Models generated from surface imaging are an excellent tool for research that serves to transmit the information encoded in the skull. Recent surface imaging technology is very user friendly from a novice perspective. However, there are different capture and processing specifications between equipment and software, which have the potential to create error due to variation caused by the data capture processes. A review of recent research working to capitalize on 3-D models belies the variation in standards of imaging and model processing. These projects tend to be preferential to data that are collected from samples with a low error rate. Error could be due to deviation of symmetry or damage. However, recovered human crania in historic and archaeological contexts are unlikely to have low rates of damage.

In spite of the potential variations introduced by the applications of process parameters, there was no convincing degree of non-correspondence in correlation tests to two comparison approaches.

The ultimate goal is to develop guidelines for data collection and processing that are capable of capitalizing 3-D data from any of the available technologies and processing output that is computationally efficient as well as statistically correspondent.

Included in

Anthropology Commons



© Copyright 2015 Mary-Margaret Murphy