Institute of Archaeology Institute of Archaeology
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Prehistoric Archaeology
Archaeology of the Biblical Period
Civilizations of the Ancient Near East

Computerized Archaeology
  3-D Models
Restoration & Conservation
Graphic Documentation

Archaeology in 3-D

The laboratory is a joint initiative of the Hebrew University, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Weizmann Institute of Science. The Archaeology department of the University of Haifa joined as a collaborating partner.

The purpose of the laboratory is to harness mathematical and computational methods to support archaeological research, documentation and visualization. The laboratory is equipped with modern, high precision scanners which provide digital three dimensional models of archaeological finds, some of which can be viewed on this homepage.

3D Drachma

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So far we concentrated on ceramic and lithic artifacts, and developed the following tools which are used routinely:


  • An efficient and accurate procedure was developed to scan, position and draw pottery fragments at a rate and reliability exceeding by far the traditional manual methods. The system was tested successfully by analyzing several thousands of fragments.
  • An algorithm which performs an automatic typological classification of fragments was developed and tested on several assemblages of approximately 1000 fragments each. The classification is based on a careful analysis of the profile, making use of its entire shape, unlike the standard methods which use a few metric data (height, width, etc). Using this high resolution method, it was possible to distinguish between two neighboring production sites in the same potters village.
  • A fundamental assumption which underlies archaeological pottery studies is that pottery production can be standardized with minimal variability within the shapes of vessels belonging to any given type. We tested the viability of this assumption in ethno-archaeological studies involving several contemporary potters.
  • 3D Scarab

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3D rotating

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  • A computer program to position the 3D models of prehistoric tools was developed. After positioning, the program provides views and sections of the artifacts together with several metric measures.
  • The "symmetry'" and "roughness" of bifaces was mathematically defined and attempts were carried out to correlate these measures with chronology.
  • Post-depositional damage of flint artifact were simulated in an experiment, where the 3D scanning of the artifacts provided the quantitative data by which the damage patterns were followed and described.
The laboratory operates three 3-D scanners:
  • Manufactures by Polygon Technology (Darmstadt, Germany) and purchased in 2005 by Weizmann Institute of Science and Haifa University with the support of Israel Science Foundation.
  • Manufactures by Polygon Technology (Darmstadt, Germany) purchased in 2007 by Weizmann Institute of Science
  • Manufactured by Breuckmann (Meersburg, Germany) Purchased by The Hebrew University with the support of Yad HaNadiv foundation.