Virtual Anthropology and its Application in Cultural Heritage Studies

Antonio Profico*, Luca Bellucci, Costantino Buzi, Fabio Di Vincenzo, Ileana Micarelli, Flavia Strani, Mary Anne Tafuri, Giorgio Manzi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The remains that typically compose the human fossil record often bear cracks, damage, and deformations. The recent rapid development of ‘virtual anthropology’ has provided innovative tools to manage, study, and preserve cultural and natural heritage. Such tools include computerized tomography (CT), laser scanning, photogrammetry, 3D imaging, and rapid prototyping. These approaches can contribute to any archaeological context from the discovery of artefacts to research, preservation, and dissemination. 3D imaging techniques can substitute physical intervention with a virtual protocol to restore the original shape of a fossil specimen. In a similar way, digital morphological information can be recovered using data preserved even on a fragment through the use of 3D comparative samples. Here we present an extended and updated review of the most innovative protocols in virtual anthropology, also applicable in other fields such as natural history and cultural heritage studies, through the description of recent cast studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-336
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in Conservation
Issue number6
Early online date20 Sept 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Sept 2018


  • 3D imaging
  • 3D printing
  • conservation
  • digital acquisition
  • geometric morphometrics
  • Palaeoanthropology
  • virtual restoration

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