Culture in 3D

For the protection of valuable artefacts, it is important to keep direct contact by scientists and museum staff to a minimum. New 3D technology makes possible the creation of precise digital copies that can be put to a diverse range of uses. Measurements, typological classification, and stylistic comparisons can be carried out using the copies. Sections taken through the digital copies do not damage the original. Such copies are also of use in presentations, spatial analysis, the creation of further copies for museums, and teaching.

3D Documentation of Archaeological Finds

Since 2010 the Neanderthal Museum has owned a structured light scanner with which objects can be scanned to produce digital 3D models. The purchase of this scanner has made an important contribution toward the expansion of the museum's collection of digital objects and to the research possibilities in prehistoric archaeology. It is being used to systematically scan a variety of object types: stone and bone artefacts, decorative artefacts, and cave art, as well as in situ finds. The Neanderthal Museum exchanges information gained with this technology, and new developments in its use, with other institutions.

For further information: NESPOS, Breuckmann


Project completed

This project was developed together with a number of European partners (Natural History Museum, London; Naturalis, Leiden; University of Turin; Musée National d'Histoire et d'Art, Luxembourg; Musée National de la Préhistoire, Les Eyzies; Naturkundemuseum, Budapest; Königliches Institut für Naturwissenschaften, Brussels). The goal was the creation of a virtual online museum of the evolution of humans in Europe. The collective prehistoric heritage of Europe was to be made accessible on the website. The database was to be accessible to both the general public and the professional archaeological community. From 1999 to 2000 the project was supported by the Culture 2000 programme of the European Directorate-General for Culture.

ORION - Object Rich Information Network

From 2003 to 2004, together with various European partners (National Museums of Scotland; Athens Technology Centre, Greece; Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain; Universita Degli Studi Di Firenze, Italy; The Multimedia Team, Scotland; Gesellschaft zur Förderung Angewandter Informatik e.V., Germany; National Museum of Ireland; BIBRACTE, Centre archéologique européen, France; Archaeological Laboratories of Dion, Greece; Museo Arqueológico Provincia de Alicante, Spain; Intracom, Greece) investigations were conducted into how 3D technology could be used in European museums in order to give both scientists and the general public better access to our cultural heritage. The project was supported by the European Commission.

EVAN - European Virtual Anthropology Network

Project completed

The Marie Curie Fellowship Programme was conducted from 2006 to 2009, under the direction of the Institute of Anthropology at the University of Vienna. More than 30 young scientists from the fields of palaeoanthropology, medicine, IT, and engineering were given the opportunity to learn about new methods and techniques for the presentation and processing of 3D images, and the application of such images for their research. Priscilla Bayle, a Marie Curie Fellowship holder, conducted research at the Neanderthal Museum on the evolution of teeth in the genus Homo using high-definition CT scans. EVAN used NESPOS as the archive for its digital image data. The project was supported by the European Commission.

Find further information here

TNT - The Neanderthal Tools

Project completed

Together with numerous European partners (ART+COM, Berlin; PXP Software, Vienna; National Geographic Deutschland, Hamburg; Hasso-Plattner-Institut, Potsdam; Croatian Natural History Museum, Zagreb; Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels; Université de Poitiers) the digitalisation of European Neanderthal finds was begun, and, at the same time, a software tool was developed that enabled the processing of that data. Over 600 fossils and artefacts from Belgium, Croatia, France, and Germany were scanned. The chief result of the project is the NESPOS database. From 2004 to 2006 the project was supported by the European Commission.


3D Documentation of Archaeological Finds

Breuckmann, Bernd; Arias Cabal, Pablo; Mélard, Nicolas; Ontañón Peredo, Roberto; Pastoors, Andreas; Teira Mayolini, Luis C. et al. (2009): Surface scanning - New perspectives for archaeological data management and methodology? In: Lisa Fischer, Bernhard Frischer und Sarah Wells (Hg.): Computer applications and quantitative methods in Archaeology. Making history interactive. March 22-26, 2009. Williamsburg, S. 1-8.

Pastoors, Andreas; Weniger, Gerd C. (2011): Close-range sensing for generation 3D objects in prehistoric archaeology. In: Victoria Lenz-Wiedemann und Georg Bareth (Hg.): Proceedings of the ISPRS WG VII/5 Workshop, Workshop, 18.-19.11.2011, Cologne: Köln, S. 103-106.

Pastoors, Andreas; Weniger, Gerd C. (2011): Graphical documentation of lithic artefacts: traditional hand craft versus 3-D mechanical recording. In: Roberto Macchiarelli und Gerd C. Weniger (Hg.): Pleistocene databases: acquisition, storing, sharing. Mettmann: Neanderthal Museum (Wissenschaftliche Schriften des Neanderthal Museums, 4), S. 9-18.