DISAPALE: 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.
Since February 2022, we have made our collections available online in our Digital Archive.
If you have any questions about this collection, please contact the following colleague: Anna Riethus, MA

For further information: NESPOS


DISAPALE stands for “Digitale Sammlung Pläolitischer Leitformen”, which is German for “Digital collection of lithic typological forms”. It is a project of the Neanderthal Museum in collaboration with the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, financed by the BMBF, the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry of Education and Research).

The main objective of DISAPALE, as the project title already suggests, is to digitalize about 500 different typological forms known in scientific literature (with about 4 or 5 variants per type) and make them available on the NESPOS platform for archaeology students and professionals alike.

The people involved in this project are Dr. Bärbel Auffermann, the scientific supervisor; Gianpiero Di Maida, post-doc; and Jan Cetinkaya, scientific collaborator at the Neanderthal Museum.

The recording process will be done mainly using a Breuckmann smart-scan 3D and Optoscan software 2018. But case-by-case, the programme Structure from Motion will be tested on the way to compare results and to also produce new data about the methodology of the recording.

The basis for the realization of the planned catalogue will be the known-from-the-literature types’ lists (e.g. Bordes “Typologie du Paléolitique ancient et moyen” Paris 2000, or Floss’ (ed.) „Steinartefakte. Vom Altpaläolithikum bis in die Neuzeit“, Tübingen 2013). We are well aware of the constitutional problems that the typological approach at the study of the lithics brings with itself. Keeping these issues in mind, and in the light of most recent research (BIBLIO), another objective of the project aside from recording will be that of highlighting and then addressing possible elements of criticism on the classic typological approach and to suggest alternatives.