2.5D representation of the watusi’s skeleton alongside a photo of the watusi in the pit. The watusi’s skull is in purple, the pelvis is in blue, ribs and vertebrae are in green and long bones are in orange./ Image credit: N. Gupta, 2010

Parc Safari Burial Detection

Parc Safari Burial Detection (opens new window) was a collaboration between scholars in the departments of anthropology and of geography at McGill University and Parc Safari. Parc Safari is a zoological park located in Hemmingford, Quebec, Canada, specializing in African fauna. The team collected information on the locations of graves, the dates that graves were created and the occupants of graves was not available, a situation that is similar to clandestine graves created to conceal human rights abuses. The cemetery therefore offered a real-world analogue for scholars to develop tools and technologies to facilitate burial detection and documentation.

As part of an archaeological field school, undergraduate and graduate students carefully excavated the grave of a watusi. Watusi is a large-horned cow typically found in Africa.

2.5D Model of Watusi Grave 2.5D Model of Watusi Grave

Students documented the excavation using traditional notebooks, digital photography, as well as a total station. High-precision data collected on the total station were processed in ArcGIS, a GIS software. The images below are a 2.5D model of the grave, and the watusi’s skeletal remains within it. Such representations can enable insights into burial practices.

Top View of Watusi Grave click for larger view Top View of Watusi Grave

Front View of the Watusi skull click for larger view Front View of the Watusi skull