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RBINS data

by Patrick Semal last modified 2007-04-28 14:08

Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences RBINS (Legal status: Gov)

29, rue Vautier

1000 Bruxelles


Cost Model

Full Costs

flat-rate of 60%


The RBINS is the most prominent natural history museum and an archaeological and anthropological research institute in Belgium. Most of the Belgium Anthropological series are in the Museum collection. The institute started programs of digitization of the whole record of Belgium Neanderthal remains including human fossils, artifacts, archaeological sites and other scientific documents (MARS and TNT projects).


Structure :

The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences is a Belgian Federal State institution. It is part of the Federal Public Planning Service Science (PPS Science Policy, the Prime Minister's Offices). It is involved in important scientific research activities and carries out public service missions. It is open to everyone through the Museum of Natural Sciences.

Basic scientific research:

scientific research in the area of the natural sciences, mainly concerned with the study of evolution, diversity, and ecosystems.

Scientific service:

scientific support provided to public and private institutions and bodies involved in the management of the natural heritage, in particular in the application of conventions and regional, federal, European, and international legislation.

The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and the Directorate-General for Development Co-operation of the Belgian federal Government work together in conserving and promoting biodiversity in developing countries.

Heritage:
the management and development, in the areas already referred to, of collections, databanks, libraries, and specialised archives, constituting a resource at national and international level.

Museum:
the development and promotion of the Museum of Natural Sciences with its permanent and temporary exhibitions and various other educational activities as key instruments for the spreading of scientific knowledge.


Laboratory of Anthropology, Archaeozoology and Praehistory

Person in charge : Dr. Patrick Semal (Head of section, Chief Researcher)

Fon: ++32.2.6274380

Fax: ++32.2.6274113

Patrick.semal@naturalsciences.be

Collection/research: Human origins, Neanderthals, digitization of anthropological collections


Patrick Semal

obtained his MD from the Free University of Brussels (1987) with a biometric study of Neanderthal teeth. He got a Phd in 1996, Free University of Brussels, on the subject of the antigenic properties of fossil collagens. He participated to several exhibitions about human variability and evolution, published as (co-)author about 40 scientific publications and presented about 40 scientific communications. He is now the head of the Anthropology-Archaeozoology-Praehistory section of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and the curator of the major Belgian Neanderthal collections. During these last 3 years, Patrick Semal participated to several digitizations of Anthropological collections programs funded by EU (TNT) and national agencies (MARS). He used intensively Computed and μ-Computed Tomography in order to provide best 3D datasets from Human fossil material improving access to fossil data and better Cultural Heritage preservation.


The anthropology collection of the Museum can be divided into  :

  1. A collection of 2000 skeletons from Historic Belgian sites

  2. About 300 skulls from identified geographic areas ;

  3. A collection of know sex and age (80 individuals)

  4. A collection of human paleontology :

  • Neanderthals from Belgium : Spy, Fonds-de-Forêt, La Naulette, Goyet

  • Upper Palaeolithic fossil men from RDC: Ishango

  • A very important series of Neolithic skeletons from various Meuse Basin collective burials (about 200 individuals).

  1. A collection of ethnographic casts ;



Mars: Multimedia Archaeological Research System


Multimedia digitization of the ”archaeological“ collections scattered throughout the Royal Museums of Art and History, the Royal Institute of Belgium for Naturel Sciences and the Royal Museum of Central Africa. Application to the Spy site (province of Namur)



The archaeological collections are most of the time scattered among various federal institutions (FSEs) but also community, regional, communal or even private institutions. They are on the fringe of the main collections of each FSEs, due to their multidisciplinary specificity, combining natural and human sciences.

The digitization of the “archaeological” collections is essential, because of their unique and irreplaceable character. Likewise, the creation of coherent virtual sets is the only realistic means to regroup collections which are scattered, allowing thus a better patrimonial and scientific management.

In this way, digitizing the collections answers not only a demand from the administrative authorities (SSTCs) and from the directors of the 3 FSEs concerned, but also the recommendations of the White Book of the FSEs and the needs of the researchers.

The aim of this project is the testing of the common digitization of the archaeological collections of the 3 FSEs, with a special concern for synergy and efficiency. Already during the first phase of the project, operators in the archaeological world outside the FSEs (universities, regions, associations, foreign institutions) will be integrated in the development of the project through their participation in the follow-up committee. During the second phase, the pilot application will be extended to new partners wishing to use MARS for their own collections.

From a technological point of view, MARS will be set up using “open source” technologies, in order to guarantee its durability and its development independently from any commercial constraint. This option will also benefit the transfer of the technology developed in other fields than archaeology. We will stress the flexibility of the system and its multi-lingual aspects as well at the level of the encoding of data as at the level of consulting them.

The multi-media systems accepted will enable the filing and showing of documents, sounds, videos, pictures, animations in 3 dimensional (3D) models.

During the second phase of the project, we will test the interest and the feasibility of high-resolution 3D digitization applied to scientific research, conservation of the cultural and scientific heritage and to museological realisations.

The proposed pilot project, i.e. the digitization of the internationally known collections from the Spy cave will ensure an immediate visibility to the project.





TNT project

TNT – The Neanderthal Tools was a combined RTD (Research and Technological Development) and demonstration project of eight European partners from four EU member states and the candidate country Croatia which have developed a series of advanced services and applications to improve access to Europe’s cultural heritage, namely to collections and artefacts of the prehistoric Neanderthal culture. Neanderthal humans (homo neanderthalensis) were once common throughout Europe, but became extinct some 30,000 years ago. Since the discovery of remains of our predecessing relatives in Düsseldorf, Germany in 1856, archaeologists have unearthed its fossils at dozens of different excavation sites, including those in Croatia, Belgium, France and Germany. Thanks to TNT – The Neanderthal Tools, funded under the 6th Framework Programme for

Research and Technological Development (FP6) between March 2004 and February 2006, scientists worldwide now can probe the secrets of human evolution from the comfort of their computers. TNT has established the world’s leading scientific network on Neanderthal research.

TNT has created a complete archaeological workflow environment – from the topographics of an excavation campaign to the exploration and documentation of single fossils, human remains and artefacts, and their accessibility throughout a digital Web-based repository.

The TNT applications take advantage of state-of-the-art technology to provide a virtual public collection of fossils and artefacts which is open to the scientific community. The Neanderthal Tools enable scientifically valid research on virtual primary sources for the first time.