NESPOS is the centralized object database of the Neanderthal Museum and is administrated by the NESPOS Society e.V. based in Mettmann.

NESPOS is an open source platform containing digital information and data about Pleistocene archaeology. The database comprises 3D objects, photographs, text documents, data sets and publications which are organized according to their geo-referenced sites. A wiki-based content-management system guarantees worldwide availability. With regard to the necessities of the curators, flexible access rights control the proper handling of the digital data. To enlarge the database and as a service for interested parties the Neanderthal Museum offers the possibility to digitalize 3D objects (CT scans and surface scans). In the following, we will provide you with the basic skills needed to find the information and data you are searching for.

Database Structur

 (Public space) information in NESPOS is organized within a hierarchic structure of parent and child pages. A parent and all its children comprise a page family. One such family is e.g. a specific archaeological site ("Site XY"). For this site different kinds of information are available: i.e. general stratigraphic data, absolute chronological data, archaeological material, bibliographic references etc. All these kinds of supplementary information are children pages of the parent page "SiteXY". The different children pages of a parent page can be depicted in the linked files and pages section on the right.


The sites are structured according to their location on the three continents Africa, Asia, and Europe, and the country they belong to with each parent page of a site presenting some basic information. From this basic information page more detailed information is accessible in a hierarchic structure. First, the basic information contains general information such as site name, site type, first description, discovery date and a short chronological abstract. In addition to that, the location is described in detail comprising e.g. site coordinates and a small map marking the site. Linked files and pages, additional content and pictures can be seen. The linked files and pages section shows other files such as multimedia files (e.g. pdfs) concerned with the referred site or allows for bibliographic information. Among the linked files and pages the index is especially important as it gives an overview of pages and data available.

2.1) Archaeological Data

Information about archaeological remains such as lithic or organic artefacts of specific sites can be easiest found via the general stratigraphy tab among the index. You then are e.g. able to choose a specific layer of which you need more detailed information such as technological and typological features of the lithic assemblage, and tables or pictures of the (lithic and/ or organic) artefacts. Moreover, for some sites absolute dates are available which also can be navigated via the general stratigraphy page.

2.2) Cave art: the Wendel Collection

Besides palaeoanthropological (3D) data, a unique characteristic of NESPOS is the so-called Wendel Collection. It probably represents the world's largest photo collection containing about 3000 pictures of Franco-Cantabrian cave art from more than 50 prehistoric cave sites. As a famous stage designer Heinrich Wendel, driven by his artistic interests, travelled the Franco-Cantabrian region several times between 1964 and 1970, in search of inspiration from prehistoric cave art. He also took pictures in the non-public areas of the caves. More than 20 years after Heinrich Wendel's death this photo library was endowed to the Neanderthal Museum for scientific revision and conservation. The pictures of the different caves can be found by choosing the site you are interested in and then follow the collection item: Wendel collection among the linked files and pages section on the right.

Human Fossils

A unique characteristic of NESPOS is the large set of digitalized anthropological remains. According to your license you have access to different kinds of 3D data such as surface scans/STL models, CT and microCT scans. Data are sorted according to the different hominid species: anatomically modern humans, Neanderthals, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, and Australopithecus and then accessible via a hierarchical structure as described above: Continent (Africa, Asia, and Europe) - Country - Site. After having chosen the species and the country you are interested in you get a list with the palaeoanthropological sites and the specimen of which data are available in NESPOS. The list includes different kinds of information:

site: you are redirected to the general information page of the site, if available
specimen: via a click you are redirected to a page containing general information about the relevant specimen
description: anatomical description of the specimen

The three following tabs include links to the different kinds of digitalized data available:

STL model
CTscan or microCTscan

A click on one 3D data model redirects you to the page containing some general information about the specimen on the left, linked pages on the right and the attached data files which appear at the bottom.

3.1) 3D data processing

For a first visualization and some basic working processes you may download the two open source 3D viewers Meshlab (see external Tutorial) and Optoview (see tab "Service"). Fore a more sophisticated visulisatin of the 3D-modell we offer the Artefact-Viewer which can be downloaded from our homepage. The Artefact-Viewer was developped in collaboration with the Chair of Computer Science, University of Cologne, Prof. Dr. U. Lang and Dipl. Inf. D. Wickeroth. A user manual in form of a short video is also available in the "Support" section, as well as two publications about the Artefact-Viewer.

Modern reference

Apart from the palaeoanthropological data modern reference data are available. The reference data contains information about Hominoidea, Ceboidea, Cercopithecoidea, Lemuroidea, and Lorioidea. Due to cooperation with the Primate Research Institute of the Kyoto University for some species 3D data are available.



NESPOS Society