Seeing in a new light: How can polynomial texture mapping help record forensic investigations of cremations?
Polynomial texture mapping is an image capture and processing technique used to record and represent details from a surface. It has been utilised in archaeology, cultural heritage projects, and forensics. Through the combination of traditional photography and lighting equipment, and a piece of free software, it is providing a new level of detail and malleability in modelling. This project has explored the potential of polynomial texture mapping to crime scene recording through the investigation of a mock clandestine cremation, in order to determine whether it offers any significant advantage for crime scene recording. This study has utilised not only polynomial texture maps, but also traditional photographs, measurements, and sketches. Once recorded, individuals with a forensic or archaeological knowledge, and individuals with no existing knowledge carried out a comparison of the records, to understand how a jury and expert witnesses, as well as students or crime scene investigators the maps, perceive the various record types. This study has also examined issues such as finance, training, and time requirements, as well as the general quality of the records. The results of this study suggest that polynomial texture maps are well received by non-specialists and that when used alongside traditional methods, could prove a valuable resource to forensic investigations of cremations, requiring minimal investment in time and money.