The use of laser spectroscopy to investigate bone disease in King Henry VIII's sailors

Kerns, Jemma and Buckley, Kevin and Parker, Anthony and Birch, Helen and Matousek, Pavel and Hildred, Alex and Goodship, Allen (2015) The use of laser spectroscopy to investigate bone disease in King Henry VIII's sailors. Journal of Archaeological Science, 53. pp. 516-520. ISSN 0305-4403

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The Mary Rose was King Henry VIII's flagship before it sank in battle on the 19th July 1545. Over four hundred men went down with the ship and the environment of the Solent meant their remains were quickly covered in silt. Between 1979 and 1982 the remains of 179 individuals were recovered and examined as part of the excavation of the Mary Rose. The anaerobic environment created by the silt preserved the sailors' bones in remarkable condition and to date much has been learnt about life on the ship. In this study we used Raman spectroscopy (a non-destructive technique), to investigate the chemistry of the human bones, specifically for the identification of disease in archaeological specimens, for the first time. Raman data were collected from five anatomically normal tibiae and five tibiae that were bowed (individuals suspected to have suffered from bone disease in childhood). The data were processed using multivariate analysis (principal component analysis) and results showed the presence of chemical abnormalities in the bowed bones which resulted in the separation of the bones into two clearly defined groups, normal and bowed.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Archaeological Science
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This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? mary rosemetabolic bone diseasecollagenraman spectroscopyarchaeologyhistory ??
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Deposited On:
16 Dec 2014 10:33
Last Modified:
31 Dec 2023 00:32