Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew University

Computer technology for the archaeological analysis of Scanned and digitized artifacts in 3D

Posted by Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew UniversityResponsive · Innovative Products and Technologies · Israel

Summary of the technology

Computer technology for the archaeological analysis of Scanned and digitized artifacts in 3D

Project ID : 37-2016-4384

Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew University

Description of the technology

Uzy Smilansky, The Weizmann Institute, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Avshalom Karasik, Israel Antiquity Authority

Sophisticated yet user friendly computer applications to analyze and record archaeological artifacts, based on 3D digital models obtained by standard optical scanning technology


Stone tools, prehistoric stones, flint tools, ancient pottery, ancient ceramics, ancient pottery workshops, potsherd profile, geometric morpho-metrics, computer-aided classification of ceramics, computerized archaeology, digital archaeology, 3D archaeological analysis, 3D modelling and visualization, virtual archaeology, computational archaeology, digital documentation in archaeology, cyber archaeology, comparative archaeology, cluster analysis, archaeological restoration, pottery reconstruction.

Development Stage

Proof of concept and initial results

Innovation summary

The technology, intended for digital documentation and analysis of archaeological finds, makes use of optical scans of the artifacts which generates accurate 3D digital models. Sophisticated algorithms analyze the 3D models, extracting precise object measurements, and thereby providing a powerful tool for typological analyses and classification. This analysis reveals compelling information - otherwise unavailable using traditional documentation - including distinctive characteristics and production techniques of workshops and of individual craftsmen. It also eliminates the need to manually draw artifact saving on costs and time.


The artifacts are scanned using a high-precision commercial 3D optical scanner. A set of proprietary software programs position and measure the artifacts, computing various attributes which characterize their shape. The programs draw the objects and produces printer-ready documentation of the artefacts, in compliance with the Archaeological standards.

Two separate programs are provided for processing artifacts, according to the type and geometry of the objects:

  • Program for analyzing fragments of wheel-produced ceramics: The program computes the axis of symmetry and the profile of ceramic fragment even when they cover only 15% of the vessel circumference.This data is used for clustering ceramic assemblages and for drawing print-ready potsherd plates. The application provides also the volume of vessels from their profile.
  • Program for modelling asymmetrical or irregular-shaped objects (such as stone tools, figurines, coins and other that are not produced on a potters-wheel): The program computes the object’s intrinsic geometric properties and dimensions, and provides objective positioning of asymmetrical objects based on geometrical criteria.The later are used for producing 2D views and sections. It also extracts precise measurements of the surface area of distinctive features, such as scars and ridges, which are mapped on the model as part of the artifact. The application offers several functions which include e.g., determination of the location of the center of gravity, or the mean angle between adjacent palnar sections of the surface. Snapshots from various angles are provided, and flexible editing functions are available for image analysis.

The Artifact3-D program for artifact documentation and analysis (after Grosman 2016). The Neolithic mask is from the Israel Museum Collection, exhibited at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.


  • Fast, low-cost, and accurate solution for digital conservation and documenting of artifacts
  • Easy extraction of precise measurements
  • Effective for typological analysis and the study of ancient tools
  • Editing functions available for image analysis
  • Fast analysis in the field during archaeological excavations
  • Easily integrated in archaeological databases

Development milestones

The two software programs are already being utilized intensively for documenting and analysing of artifacts. So far, more than 60,000 artifacts, retrieved from over 100 archaeological sites, were scanned and analysed. Our aim is to improve the user interface and to add several innovative analytical options.


  • Effective for archaeological research intended for academic researchers, students, museum curators, and the general public
  • Possible use for consistency and QA checks in various industries

Researcher information


Uzy Smilansky Laboratory:https://www.weizmann.ac.il/complex/uzy/home

Project manager

Tamir Huberman
VP Business Dev. Computer Science & IT Director

Project researchers

Leore Grosman
HUJI, Faculty of Humanities
Institute of Archaeology

Related keywords

  • Socio-economic development models, economic aspects
  • Other (uncategorised)
  • Humanities / Social Sciences

About Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew University

Technology Transfer Office from Israel

Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd. Founded in 1964 to protect and commercialize the Hebrew University’s intellectual property. Ranked among the top technology transfer companies, Yissum has registered over 8,900 patents covering 2,500 inventions; has licensed out 800 technologies and has spun-off 90 companies. Products that are based on Hebrew University technologies and were commercialized by Yissum generate today over $2 Billion in annual sales.

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