Wednesday 24 October 2012

Arc-Team and Antrocom NPO start "Taung" project

"Taung" project starts: its aim is the craniofacial reconstruction of the fossil known as "Taung child", a specimen of Australopithecus africanus discovered by Raymond Dart in 1924 in a quarry near the town of the same name in South Africa.

"Taung" is a collaborative project between Antrocom non-profit organization, an association for anthropological studies, Arc-Team, a company that operates in the field of cultural heritage, and Cicero Moraes, an expert in 3D modeling applied to the forensic context.

The Museum of Anthropology of the University of Padua has provided the casts of its collection to the experts of Antrocom NPO and Arc-Team. Among the objectives of the project: to evaluate the applicability of the used method to the reconstruction of faces of contemporary human beings, to the paleoanthropological context and to create a database of examples of application of modern techniques of digital reconstruction to the anthropological context for research and popularization.

The researchers decided to work through a three-dimensional survey of the cast of Taung child at first, and then they decided to reconstruct the facial muscles of the skull through the observation and comparison of DICOM scans of primates.

In particular, the three-dimensional survey of the find was made through techniques of Structure from Motion and Image-Based Modeling (SFM / IBM), using only free and open source software (Python Photogrammetry Toolbox). For the digital reconstruction of the facial musculature researchers chose open source programs (including Blender), modeling using the technique of "metaballs" the needed muscle bundles, while they will be used mainly the free software InVesalius for the comparison with DICOM data of other primates.

The project is located in a wider context of research that aims to explore the application of digital techniques in the museum context, with particular attention to the findings of anthropological nature.

The search results will be released as soon as possible in turn under an open source license and therefore freely distributed. Antrocom NPO and Arc-Team would like to thank, for their invaluable cooperation, the Museum of Anthropology of University of Padua, in the person of the keeper, dr. Nicola Carrara, and the Centre for Museums of University of Padua.

Antrocom non-profit organization promotes and encourages the development of studies of physical and cultural anthropology, working in scientific research, education, training and in the popularization of anthropological sciences. The Association is careful to perceive and enhance both the local tradition that the new technological perspective applied to anthropology.

Arc-Team sas is a company based in Cles (TN, Italy) formed up by young archaeologists and anthropologists working in the field of cultural heritage, characterized by wide-ranging collaborations at national and international levels. In particular, it deals with archaeological excavations, documentation and digital modeling (2D and 3D), GIS geoarchaeology, WebGIS, paleopathology, anthropology and musealization.

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