Brussels, 05 Aug 2004
The European Commission intends to improve access to Europe's cultural heritage by providing 2,650,000 euro to a new Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) project aimed at bringing together all existing European expertise in the field of Neanderthal research.
It is hoped the Neanderthals tools (TNT) project- the largest research alliance of this type in the world - will result in a breakthrough in understanding of the origins of modern humans and the disappearance of the Neanderthals.
TNT is funded under DigiCULT (Digital Heritage and Cultural Content) of the Information Society Technologies (IST) priority area. DigiCULT facilitates research and preservation work on Europe's artistic and cultural treasures using modern technology.
Thus, TNT will use visual simulation technologies to promote intelligent heritage and cultural tourism applications that will open up new revenue opportunities for museums.
A digital database will be set up, containing the largest Europe-wide collection of Neanderthal finds. Specimens will be catalogued and rendered in three-dimensional images (3D). The Internet-accessible database will drastically reduce the handling of the specimens and also make the finds accessible to a far greater number of researchers.
'Interactive media technology is opening up whole new possibilities for the European research community,' said Ian Pigott, from the European Commission. 'The creation of a cross-border data pool and the integration of new imaging processes, in combination with a website for the general public, makes TNT unique.'
The TNT project will create the ARCH Channel - a cross media popular science channel, the goal of which will be to transform (pre)historic and other archaeology related objects and artefacts into commercially viable and tourism related digital media applications.
'From 2005 onwards,' explains the consortia of the seven partners involved in the project, 'the website will not only supply extensive information but also provide numerous interactive modules enabling the user to make an entertaining journey through time to the world of the Neanderthals. Parallel to this website, palaeo-anthropologists and archaeologists will exchange research information and ideas on a closed platform, and simultaneously be able to work with the finds at any point in Europe.'
'TNT promises the researchers two major advantages. Firstly, in future the scientists can examine the carefully preserved parts of the original skeletons without having to touch or transport them. Secondly, they can compare more material in just a brief period of time without burdening the tight budgets of their institutes with travel expenses,' added Professor Gerd-Christian Weniger, Director of the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany.
The TNT project should be completed by 2006, the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Neanderthals.
For more information on the project, please visit: