3D Bone Atlas Database

Overview of the 3D Bone Atlas Database

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About this database

The Environmental Archaeology Section, led by Dr. Akira Matsui (ex-director of the Center for Archaeological Operations), has been actively collecting skeletal specimens of modern species, essential for analyzing animal remains excavated from archaeological sites. Consequently, the skeletal charts based on these modern specimens have been published in "Guide to Zooarchaeology" (Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) and "Fundamentals of Zooarchaeology" (Kyoto University Press). However, we often found that the skeletons with complex shapes were not represented in the desired angles in the charts due to the limitations of plane measurement diagrams. Needless to say, it is difficult to bring many comparative skeletal specimens and diagrams to the field.


With innovative methodologies, the 3D measurement technique has been gradually adopted in various research fields. It was the technique that the ex-director, Dr. Matsui, intended to seed into his research and is now sprouting promisingly in Japanese zooarchaeology. Dr. Hiroki Kikuchi, a visiting researcher in our laboratory, has started joint research with the prospect of creating a database with three-dimensional measurements of skeletal specimens.

We now have created a database of 3D measurement-based skeletal diagrams of the main parts of animal species that are often unearthed from archaeological sites. These skeletal atlases can be displayed from all angles, making it easier than ever to understand the characteristics of bone morphology. Additionally, the database files are presented in PDF format, which anyone could download and use efficiently. We sincerely hope that this database will be widely used by archaeologists who cannot directly access modern skeletal specimens for comparison, and zoological and paleontological researchers will take full advantage of this database. We want to take this opportunity to thank all those people who have worked hard to build this database.

Precautions for use

Select the species of interest from the upper right corner of this page and proceed to the next page. A skeletal diagram of the selected species will appear, and the skeletal diagram of each part can download from there. The file will be in PDF format.

The file name contains the following information in English:

"(Species name)_(Gender※Sex unknown is denoted as U (Unknown))_(Part name)_(Left/Right/not described※not described is the part on the body axis)_(Updated version/not described※not described is the old version).

For example, "Human_M_6th_rib_L_UD" represents "Human_♂_6th_rib_Left_Updated Version".

This database is designed for a wide range of use, and there are no specific restrictions on its application. However, any form of unauthorized modification or redistribution of the database is strictly prohibited. Please obtain permission from the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties if you wish to publish the data. Please cite the "3D Bone Atlas Database of the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties" if you use the data.

Usage Environment

We have confirmed the operation under the following environments, but please check other environments on your own.

OS : Windows 10 Pro/Home 64bit, Windows 8 pro 64bit, Mac OS 10.12.6, Mac OS 10.11.6, Mac OS 10.10.5

Software : Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

About Specimens

The skeletal specimens used as the basis for the data are mainly from the collection of the Environmental Archaeology Section, Center for Archaeological Operations, Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. Human skeletons are from Kyoto University Museum, and California sea lions are from Toyohashi Museum of Natural History. *

*We are grateful for the cooperation of the Laboratory of Natural Anthropology, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, in using the human bone specimens kept at the Kyoto University Museum. We would also like to express our gratitude to the Toyohashi City Museum of Natural History for their cooperation in using the California sea lion specimens.

Feedback and contact information

Comments and questions about this database: > >Environmental Archaeology Section, Center for Archaeological Operations, Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties

Inquiries regarding the use of photographs and graphic materials, please contact: > >Cultural Property Information Section, Collaboration Promotion Division, Research Support and Promotion

Research Funding

This database was supported by JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research 22240083, 25770289, 26242020, 14J03872, 17K03207, 20H05819, and 20H01345.

Environmental Archaeology Section, Center for Archaeological Operations

contact information:Inquiries regarding the whole