3D imaging in a South African context

An AESOP Workshop, University of Pretoria

12 to 15 October 2015


The AESOP workshop is designed to expose researchers and students to cutting-edge technologies in a South African context. The diversity of possibilities for registration of structure show-cased in this workshop are envisaged to create the incentive for new training and career development opportunities.

A large range of 3D innovative technologies and methods are increasingly used not only in cultural heritage and archaeology in South Africa but also supports research in various scientific fields, including: anatomy, physical anthropology, forensic anthropology, forensic pathology; palaeoanthropology, bioengineering, mechanical engineering, geology, dentistry and radiology. For example, these innovations are well-suited to investigate the inner structure of the human body (through cone beam computer tomography or micro-computed tomography) or to produce high-quality 3D reconstructions of archaeological sites and land surface (through laser scanning, photogrammetry and drone surveys).

This workshop is an initiative of the collaborative networks called AESOP and AESOP plus which are composed of 21 South African and European universities, as well as 6 associated partners. AESOP and AESOP plus strive to promote South African national heritage as a vector for sustainable partnership with Europe. The expertise and capability of teachers, students and researchers to assimilate new technical developments may so be enhanced. AESOP and AESOP plus organise 250 mobilities for Masters and PhD students and academic staff encouraging newcomers in several fields including sciences and humanities in order to meet employment needs. AESOP and AESOP plus are supported by the Erasmus Mundus programme of the European Union with a total budget of € 4,6 millions.




Day 1: Monday 12 October 2015: Hatfield campus

This day starts off with welcoming speeches representing the University of Pretoria, the Faculty of Health Sciences, Necsa (nuclear energy corporation of South
Africa) and the NRF. The French ambassador as well as AESOP ambassadors from South Africa to Europe will be introduced. Twenty years of human palaeoanthropological collaboration between SA and France will be celebrated in this event. After tea the micro-CT facilities of Necsa and Wits will be presented followed by a wide variety of contributions from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits. Lunch will be followed by CPD accredited physical and forensic anthropological contributions from Wits and UP. This session will also include a presentation on facial reconstructions by the SAPS as well as a presentation on the Lodox-Statscan device. Lodox is a proudly South African manufactured, whole-body, skeletal and soft-tissue, low-dose X-ray apparatus. 

During this day acquisition of data from 2D photographs, surface scanning and by microscribe digitiser and micro CT will be displayed. Registration of 2D or 3D structure enables comparisons between groups or individuals. Shape variation between groups can so be appreciated. It is also ideal for studying growth or aging or other change in shape of structures anticipated because of an identified biomechanical stimulus eg. the change in shape of the mandible when teeth are lost.

This eventful day is concluded by a Cocktail function at the French embassy.


Day 2: Tuesday 13 October 2015: Field trips

The Cradle of Humankind is one of the most famous World Heritage Sites in South Africa. It is located about 30 kilometres southwest of Pretoria. Important discoveries of fossil human ancestors have been made in this area since 1936. These fossils may be represented and studied further by micro-CT scanning and computer-based 3D modelling at Necsa (Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa). We will visit Necsa in the morning and the Sterkfontein caves as well as the Kromdraai site as part of the Cradle of Humankind in the afternoon. Tours of the Sterkfontein caves are included and all transport will be arranged and will depart at 07h00 from Hatfield campus, University of Pretoria.


Day 3: Wednesday 14 October 2015. Prinshof campus

Transport will be arranged and will depart at 07h00 from Hatfield campus, University of Pretoria. During the morning the participants will be introduced to some clinical applications of 3D imaging methodologies available at Steve Biko Academic hospital; MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computer tomography) scanning as well as the CBCT (cone beam computer tomography) at the Oral and Dental hospital, University of Pretoria. These sophisticated radiographic techniques allows for non-destructive imaging of inner structure. Measurements are then possible in a 3D context.

Following on this, the participants have a choice of two workshops to attend: Educational 3D models (Room 4-20, Basic Medical Sciences Building) or Basic concepts of geometric morphometrics (Prinshof IT, Green laboratory). Basic concepts of geometric morphometrics will be introduced as applicable for 2D and 3D data from a wide spectrum of sources including photographic, X ray and microscribe digitising technologies. Attendees will be informed on the processes of landmarking; segmentation; 3D visualisation and representation for comparisons. CPD accreditation will be requested for all the activities on this day. The day ends on a high note with a Gala dinner.


Day 4 : Thursday 15 October 2015. Hatfield campus

This day will be devoted to the role of 3D modelling in heritage studies, archaeology and geology at the University of Pretoria and in France. For instance the potential of 3D modelling in aiding our understanding of a large archaeological site such as Great Zimbabwe will be examined.

The involvement of bioengineering in cochlea implants and mechanical engineering for analysis of human structure will be presented as well. This session will be CPD accredited. The day ends with a farewell lunch where the way forward will be considered.

Last edited by Johannes Heyl

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