Research Equipment: Investments and material development



Topoi selectively invests in areas outside the work of the Cluster, thereby yielding sustained added value at highly diverse levels. For the protection of materials through digitization, and the long-term securing and archiving of research objects, Topoi has invested in innovative and modern technology.

Digitization: KolibriMulti and Map Scanner

KolibriMulti, Photo: Olaf M. Teßmer, Vorderasiatisches Museum (SMB)

In the Near Eastern Museum (SMB-SPK), a purchase was made of a modular, self-calibrating optical 3D-measuring system (KolibriMulti) developed by the Frauenhofer Society. It digitises complex smaller objects such as cylinder seals, making them accessible for museum work and exhibition planning.

Data Collection of digitized cylinder seals at the research platform Edition Topoi

In the map department of the National Library (SBB-SPK),  a map scanner was acquired for the error-free digitalisation. This technique allows for the scanning and preservation with low mechanical wear and light-intensity. There is significant demand for this service outside of Topoi as well.

In the area of interdisciplinary archaeological and geographical field research projects, investments have been made in equipment which is used on the one hand to support Topoi, and which on the other hand serves as an object for the development of processing routines and fundamental methods.


Documentation: The Octocopter

Researchers operating the Octocopter in Pietrele, Romania

The Octocopter resembles a small model helicopter. But weighing in at only one kilogram, the flying machine can do much more: As a remote-controlled UAS (Unmanned Aerial System – “Drone”), the Octocopter takes ultra-high-resolution aerial photographs, facilitating documentation of excavations and description of find locations. In addition, highly accurate and useful digital terrain models can be derived from the photos. The Octocopter also aids in the discovery of hidden artefacts.


Chemical Analysis: X-ray fluorescence spectrometer

Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (PXRF) for the chemical analysis archaeological objects

For many archaeological objects, the question of chemical composition is often the most important data pertaining to classification. This data can now be obtained thanks to the newly developed portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometer, which enables non-destructive surface analysis to be conducted onsite, e.g. of metals, wall paintings, glass, stones and ceramics.

With the Niton XL3t900S GOLDD, a large number of ceramic shards can be analysed with very little effort. However, determination of origin requires additional, exact quantitative analysis of powder samples.


Measurement: 3D scanner and GPS receiver

3D laser scanner Leica ScanStation 2

In Topoi, a 3D laser scanner has been introduced for work in the area of building research and classical and prehistoric archaeology. The equipment in question is a high-precision measuring instrument capable of rapidly surveying surfaces of the most diverse compositions. With a range of up to 300 meters and an extremely high resolution (cf. system specifications) it is suitable for measurement of both extensive terrain and filigree objects.

Measurement yields a 3D scatter diagram, which can be used in further processing and analysis operations, e.g. 3D reconstruction, digital excavation plans, floor plans and the calculation of digital terrain surfaces.

Analysis: Pollenlaboratory

Preparation for the chemical treatment of pollen samples | Photo: Topoi

Preparation for the chemical treatment of pollen samples | Photo: Topoi

The new and fully equipped Topoi pollen laboratory and the microscope pool allow for the analysis of a variety of sediment archives concerning their composition of proxies like pollen, spores, so called Non Pollen Palynomorphs (NPP) and macro remains. The goals of these analyses are to reconstruct the changes that occurred in former landuse practices and in climate change as well. The lab was envisioned as a place for the development of new analysis techniques and approaches to gain insight into the field of Geoarchaeology. This enables a much more holistic reconstruction of natural and anthropogenic influences on palaeoecological conditions. One specific feature is that the laboratory is equipped for the use of hydrogenfluoric acid, which makes possible even the use of sediments with a low organic content as part of palaeoecological evidence. Within Topoi the laboratory cooperates with groups working in Germany, Italy, Russia and Azerbaijan.

Related Links

List of research equipment


Jan Krause