Thanks to its own history, the Institut de paléontologie humaine gained an international fame, established over a century ago by the distinguished key figures who created links between prehistorians throughout the world. Today, the Institut de paléontologie humaine is seeking, mainly through sponsorship, to gather private fundings in order to fulfill its ambitious scientific research programme.
Over the past years, the use of medical scan and 3D imaging has multiplied the possibilities in anthropological analysis.
Two types of applications are now possible :
- analysis of the fossil’s internal anatomical features, usually not permited with standard methods (endocranium, cranial sinuses, internal ear)
– and the computerized alteration of their damages (breaks, missing or deformed parts). These reconstructed fossils thus become more reliable and usable objects of study.
In this scope, the foundation initiated the completion of a scan Database already including scans from about 15 fossil specimens – the majority of which never left their country of origin –thanks to collaborations with partners from Europe and Asia. Through the recent reconstruction work carried out on the Chinese fossils from Yunxian, dated around one million years, the Foundation established itself as a leading institution in France for this technological revival.
Because prehistory is a discipline first initiated in France and because archaeological research is a time-consuming and costly venture, many regions of the world still remain unexplored. Thanks to its privileged relationships with researchers throughout the world, the Foundation is present anywhere traces of ancient mankind have been discovered.
Thus, numerous research programmes must be supported, such as :
- Searching for the first humans in Africa : exploring the Fejej region in southern Ethiopia
– Following Théodore Monod’s footsteps… The Adrar region in Mauritania reveals the tools of prehistoric Man.
– In India, the Narmada river banks, once walked by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, show remains of prehistoric man.
– Resuming investigations in Zhoukoudian, a famous prehistoric site of the so-called Peking man, dated 500,000 years old.
– Man before Neanderthal from the Caune de l’Arago at Tautavel : among the oldest human remains in Europe.
The prehistoric collections at the Institut de paléontologie humaine are a significant part of the world’s archaeological memory. This vast heritage, including some very rare pieces, is a great research tool for the scientific community.
The growing rate of these collections, although now lower than in the beginning of the century, has remained steady and the Institut de paléontologie humaine is now asked to house temporary collections ; this is why the building of storage spaces has become a major concern. Giving the layout of the building, one needs to contemplate an ambitious underground construction. Thus a huge space of about 200 m2 could match the demanding conservation criteria required for these unique collections.