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ANR funded project

AAP franco-québécois en Sciences humaines et sociales (ANR-FRQSC-2) 2016

Introspection of the archaeological material culture in the digital era

Material culture and the relationship to its historical context and environment are at the heart of archaeologists’ concerns. Archaeological artefacts and sediments are fragile testimonies that should be analyzed, interpreted, preserved, and valorized. This complex relationship is changing in the digital era where archaeologists have access to interactive virtual representations of the object in Virtual Reality or a copy obtained by 3D printing. In recent years, digitization methods markedly progressed providing a relevant response with non-destructive solutions for preservation, analysis, and dissemination of knowledge on cultural heritage. However, those analytical techniques are limited to the surface of the objects, monuments or sites. Yet, the structural information yielding information on the transformation of raw material and the contextual relationship of its acquisition and use is a key aspect that can be handled by innovative digital approaches.

INTROSPECT offers to archaeologists novel uses, tools to ease the access to new knowledge through digital interactive introspection methods that combine CT scans with 3D visualization technologies, such as Virtual Reality, tangible interactions and 3D printing. CT scans provides a systematic record of the densities of the raw materials composing an object and a 3D reconstruction. This method analyzes the inner part of the artifact without altering it and allows the specialist to define and understand its internal structure, method of manufacture and state of conservation. We propose to apply also this method to archaeological sediments. Virtual Reality provides a new context to the object and enhance the interaction between the analyst and the subject under investigation. Multidisciplinarity brings a major methodological challenge, however, the approach we propose involves the pooling of methods used in engineering, virtual reality, archeology and museology. Team members all collaborated in joint projects where everyone's experience in these different research fields was put to use.

This project is part of the thematic focus “research in social sciences in the digital era” by proposing innovative ways of working based on digitization for the analysis and use of data in cultural heritage studies.


CNRS Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

ENS Rennes Ecole Normale Supérieure de Rennes

IE Image ET

INRAP Institut National de Recherche en Archéologie Préventive

INRS Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique

INSA de Rennes Institut National des Sciences Appliqués de Rennes

 Musée de la nature et des sciences de Sherbrooke, QC

 Musée des Abénakis d'Odanak

 Société du patrimoine urbain de québec

ULaval Université Laval

UR1 Université de Rennes 1

ANR grant: 249 991 euros
Beginning and duration: janvier 2017 - 36 mois


ANR Programme: AAP franco-québécois en Sciences humaines et sociales (ANR-FRQSC-2) 2016

Project ID: ANR-16-FRQC-0004

Project coordinator:
Madame Valérie Gouranton (Institut National des Sciences Appliqués de Rennes)


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The project coordinator is the author of this abstract and is therefore responsible for the content of the summary. The ANR disclaims all responsibility in connection with its content.