Image: Prof. Dr. Sander Münster

The conceptual and empirical research of the Junior Professorship (Image /Object) is divided into three interconnected areas of focus: (1) 3D/4D imagery, (2) Digital Heritage & Humanities, and (3) Humanities & Social Science & Computing.

In addition, the junior professorship is interested in teaching research in order to build digital skills, especially in self-directed learning. Furthermore, the junior professorship is involved in the European Time Machine initiativeExternal link.

(1) 3D/4D images

Increasingly, digital 3D reconstructions are used to visualize art and architecture. They are a tool for research and communication in the Digital Humanities and a central research subject of our junior professorship. As part of this focus, we are developing, for example, a 3D digital viewer infrastructure for 3D reconstructions in historical studies.

4D visualizations enable the representation of temporal developments of monuments. In 4D modeling and image analysis, we are also looking at AI-based computer vision methods to recognize and process objects in digital imagery.

This opens up new ways to analyze historical photographs.

(2) Digital Heritage & Humanities

Digital Heritage Studies follow an object-oriented approach that deals with the preservation, research, and communication of digital heritage. Within the framework of this research area, we focus on photographs and illustrations of architecture that are relevant to many historical disciplines. For this, we use AI-based methods and also work on how these affect the humanities research process.

A core competency of our junior professorship is community research. As part of this, we deal with the data-based identification of trends and developments within the digital humanities. For this purpose, we use, for example, scientometrics, the quantitative investigation of scholarly activities. This is closely related to bibliometrics (measurement of scholarly publications). Since 2010, we have been conducting bibliometric analyses and identifying the most important actors in digital heritage studies. For this purpose, we have analyzed over 3,900 publications in the research field. In the area of trend analysis, for example, we have investigated whether new scientific topics in digital heritage studies can be identified at an early stage.

(3) Humanities & Social Science & Computing

The research focus focuses on the influence of digitization on the humanities and social sciences: Will digitization change the humanities and social sciences? This question is addressed by the subfield of Digital Epistemics. We also deal with interdisciplinary epistemic cultures and how scientific knowledge is produced.

In our user research, we work for instance on how researchers interact with digital information. 

Ongoing projects

  • Digital4Humanities-Modular self-study modules for teaching digital research methods in existing course programs in the humanities

    Digital educational formats such as video tutorials with self-learning options have so far been used primarily for technical degree programs. The Digital4Humanities project is now focusing on the development of digital courses that are specifically geared to the requirements of the humanities. For this purpose, a subject concept is being developed, tested and evaluated with the help of video tutorials, which is intended to provide students with digital skills for work on tasks in the humanities. This is done exemplarily for teaching contents of the subjects art history and German studies under consideration of the transferability to other humanities subject contexts. The project is aimed at promoting the digital competence of students in order to improve the career prospects for humanities graduates in the course of digitization.

    Project duration: 1.1.2020-31.12.2022

    Funding amount ca. 520.000 EUR

    Funding source: BMBF, Funding number: 16DHB3006

    Funding program: link

    Go to the project websiteExternal link

  • DFG Scientific Network Digital 3D Reconstructions as tools for research in architectural history

    In research on architectural history, digital 3D reconstructions have been used for more than 30 years as knowledge carriers, research tools and means of representation. The number of digital reconstructions created has increased continuously in recent years, and their technical, graphical, and content-related qualities vary widely. The question arises of criteria and approaches to evaluate and validate the use of models and tools as well as the resulting findings. With regard to this, the use of digital reconstruction methods in architectural history research has always been subject to a certain ambivalence. Impressive application examples and research potentials are contrasted by a whole series of justified scientific-methodological reservations.

    The 14 participants of the network deal with the following areas of focus:

    • Localization and systematization as a research tool
    • Scientific-critical understanding of methods
    • Documentation of the reconstruction process and results
    • Presentation and discourse integration
    • Standards and guidelines

    The results of the work will be incorporated into jointly developed guidelines and a "Handbook of Scientific 3D Digital Reconstruction" that will be based on them.

    Project duration: 1. July 2018 - 30. September 2022

    Funding amount: ca. 80.000 EUR

    Funding source: DFG, Funding number: 220FGI0045

    Zur Netzwerkwebseite de

  • Denkmalschutz4D - Digital urban conveyance of anthropogenic factors of influence and protective measures on built cultural heritage

    Unlike established approaches such as 3D representations, 4D aims at the 3D representation of temporal developments and thus visualizes cultural and monumental changes in a tangible way. Against this background, it enables an immediate and intuitive visualization of buildings, landscapes and related temporal processes.

    Against this background, the project aims to make the diversity and change processes of architectural monuments in the urban context virtually visible and experienceable, especially for children and young people, but also for residents and tourists. A cultural-historical information interest in the sense of a "virtual city tour" and a "visual history book" will be combined with the transfer of knowledge about monuments and anthropogenic factors of influence and protective measures. Core target group in the context of the project are young people at the age of approx. 12 years, a future extension to other target groups is possible. The project approach is based on the development of a technological pipeline for the highly automated creation of 4D city models using image sources. This enables browser-based 4D model creation and visualization on mobile devices, which in turn is supplemented by informative content on anthropogenic factors of influence, created in the context of courses by students as well as by initiatives on urban history. This information offer addresses tourists and residents as recipients. With these focal points, the proposed project offers several unique approaches, both technologically and in terms of content and didactics.

    Project duration: 01.07.2020 – 31.12.2021

    Funding amount: ca. 170.000 EUR

    Funding source: Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, Funding number: 35654

  • DFG-3D-Viewer - Infrastructure for digital 3D reconstructions

    While web-based GIS functionalities for processing and visualizing 2D geometries can be realized with standardized services and formats, corresponding techniques for managing and analyzing 3D data have not yet been established. Similarly, previous web-based 3D viewers such as or are commercial offerings and offer neither legal security nor verified long-term data availability or scientific traceability. There is a lack of widely accepted minimum standards for the documentation of 3D models and licensing.

    The development of a digital 3D viewer infrastructure for historical 3D reconstructions is intended as a permanent infrastructure for the first time, offering long-term accessibility and archieval of raw data sets and meta-information. It also enables collaboration and expert discourse on the virtual model through the generation of 3D web models derived from common data types.

    The overarching goal of the project is the development of a digital 3D viewer for digital, source-based 3D reconstructions. Subgoals are:

    • Creation of an interdisciplinary application profile
    • Workflow for the delivery of a 3D model in the repository
    • 3D presentation in the DFG viewer
    • Establishment of a 3D repository
    • Rights concept
    • Dissemination

    Project duration: 01.01.2021 – 31.12.2022

    Funding amount: ca. 415.000 EUR, davon FSU Jena: ca. 258.000 EUR

    Project partgicipants: Konsortialpartner: SLUB Dresden, HS Mainz

    Funding source: DFG-LIS, Funding number: MU 4040/5-1

    Zur ProjektwebseiteExternal link

  • HistKI - Investigation, modeling and multimodal AI-based support of image source research and criticism as a complex and fundamental historiographical work technique

    In many historical sciences, photographs and other images of architecture serve as a source and basis for subject- and theory-specific investigations. For example, historical photographs are used to reconstruct the condition of a building or to identify the formal language of an era. Starting point of these scenarios from architecture, art history and cultural studies is a source research and criticism supported by tools of the respective subjects, which is used as a basis for further evaluations and uses in the scientific context.

    Even though AI-based methods of computer vision have developed considerably in recent years, they can only support the process of source research and criticism to some extent, e.g., for the exploration of image repositories or the retrieval of images. One reason for this is that although elementary procedures in this regard are well documented, scientists - as investigated in three dissertation projects under the supervision of the coordinator - proceed very individually. Another reason is that AI image processing has not yet been designed to multimodally contextualize image content, i.e., to combine different types of sources such as images and texts. Existing computer vision methods extract purely visual features and classify them, while texts or metadata and the knowledge they contain, such as references to temporal contexts or individual motifs, cannot be linked to the analysis.

    The proposed project HistKI aims to explore the support and modeling of image source research and criticism as a complex and fundamental historiographical work technique by multimodal AI-based methods. Related sub-questions are: How do historians and other scholars find and evaluate image sources? Which generic procedures and sub-problems can be identified for this purpose? How can this be promoted with AI-based approaches? How do AI techniques affect the research process in the humanities?

    These questions will be investigated using selected scenarios in which images, texts and 3D models for describing architectural objects and urban ensembles interact synergistically for an analysis process. With the help of machine learning methods, object sources and text sources (e.g.: captions) will be linked in HistKI in order to allow a detailed contextualization and localization of photographs in the future, thereby moving a significant step beyond previous methods of distant viewing.

    Project duration: 1. June 2021 - 31. December 2023

    Funding amount: ca. 600.000 EUR

    Project participants: Konsortialpartner: LMU München, JMU Würzburg

    Funding source: BMBF, Funding number: 01UG2120A

  • Jena4D - A virtual city history book for participation

    An existing browser application for mobile devices will be expanded into a participatory knowledge platform for the 4D representation of Jena's entire city center. Citizens can compile historical photographs, anecdotes and stories and create digital city tours, jointly creating a public digital 4D history book for tourists, contemporary witnesses and future generations.

    Project duration: 1. January 2022 - 31. December 2022

    Funding amount: ca. 200.000 EUR

    Project participants: Konsortialpartner: ThULB, Stadt Jena

    Funding source: Kulturstiftung des Bundes, Funding number: DIV.0782

    Zur Projektwebseite de

  • THInKI

    AI methods are increasingly being used in the humanities. In the future, routine handling of these will be a prerequisite for successful career entry in many industries.

    This is where THInKI comes in. The joint project of TU Ilmenau and Uni Jena aims to strengthen AI competencies in teaching and familiarize students with the range of artificial intelligence and application fields.

    Main focuses of the project are:

    • Study materials
    • Teaching materials
    • Qualification offers for teachers to teach AI competencies

    Duration of the joint project: 4 years

    Funding amount: 3,8 Millionen euros (for the whole project)

    Funding source: BMBF, Funding number: 16DHBKI085

    Funding program: link


Completed projects

  • Learning by Watching 2021: Teaching and Learning with video formats in digital semesters - virtual conference

    The virtual conference Learning by Watching (part of the Digital4Humanities project) was held in September 2021. This conference served to collect video formats in teaching for learners of the past digital semesters from a broad range of subject cultures and to make them visible and discussable.

    Funding source: Graduate Academy FSU Jena

    Zur Konferenzwebsite de

  • Time Machine Project Center Jena

    The project center supports the European Time Machine project. It is funded by the Thuringian Ministry of Science via TAB and includes the operation of the German contact point as well as the creation of three feasibility studies:

    • Automated NLP/AI-based trend scouting tools for monitoring scientific articles and publications
    • A highly automated modeling pipeline for browser-based mobile 4D city visualizations
    • Multimodal analysis of user requirements for 4D visualizations.

    Project duration: 1. June 2020 - 30. November 2020

    Funding amount: ca. 65.000 EUR

    Funding source: Thüringische Aufbaubank, Funding number: 220FGI0045

  • Modellathon 2020 – Wettbewerb zur 3D-Rekonstruktion von Kulturerbe

    The three-dimensional representation of historical objects and architecture is an important field in the Digital Humanities and has great potential both for science communication and for the communication of history in the context of public history. In the course of a modelathon, a competition for the 3D reconstruction of cultural heritage, students will digitally 3D model architectural cultural heritage on the basis of historical sources using CAD programs during the winter semester 2020/2021. The results in the form of 3D models, films or image series as well as accompanying texts with background information on the respective project will be presented to the public via a weblog accompanying the project and the best works will subsequently be awarded by an expert jury with cash and non-cash prizes with a total value of 1,000.00 euros.

    Project duration: 01.10.2020 – 28.02.2021

    Funding amount: ca. 10.000 EUR

    Funding source: Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK), Funding code: 220-440SI-06

    Competition blog: link

    Funding program: link

  • EU Study VIGIE 2020/654 on quality in 3D digitisation of tangible Cultural Heritage

    The EU study on quality in 3D digitisation of tangible cultural heritageExternal link carried out by a consortium led by the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT). The main objective of the study is to map parameters, formats, standards, benchmarks, methodologies, and guidelines, relating to the 3D digitisation of immovable and movable tangible cultural heritage assets, considering the different potential purposes or uses, and general-purpose visualisation, by degree of complexity. If you want more information have a look at our brochureExternal link and watch the video of the “2nd EU Workshop on how digital technologies can contribute to the preservation and restoration of Europe's most important and endangered Cultural Heritage sitesExternal link”.

    Project duration: October 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021

    Project participants: Konsortialleiter: Cyprus University of Technology; Konsortialpartner: TIme Machine, ICOMOS, NTUA, Politechnico di Milano, Arctron 3D, Zoller + Fröhlich GmbH, Historic Environment Scotland, Aristoteles-Universität Thessaloniki

    Fördergeber: EU, Funding code: VIGIE 2020/654

Time Machine

The junior professorship is significantly involved in the European Time Machine initiativeExternal link.
The Time Machine is a technology development project focused on three areas: large-scale digitization, semantic indexing, and multimedia accessibility of the past. The goal is to create a "Google for history." The initiative currently unites more than 700 institutions from 34 countries. The junior professorship is not only home to the German coordination office of the "Time Machine", but also coordinates the funding advice and funding policy development of the entire European initiative.

  • Time Machine - National contact point

    The TMO national contact point, financed by the state of Thuringia since 2020, serves to concert and network the 120 (as of 11/2020) German TMO member institutions and companies as well as the needs-based further development of the German community. As a demand-initiated support structure for economic exploitation, the dma-sceExternal link has been in the process of being founded as a European cooperative from the German TMO since 2020. Ten SMEs from Germany and Austria with business areas in the field of digital cultural heritage are financially involved in dma-sce i.G. as shareholders.


    Thomas Timmerhoff


  • Time Machine - Project Scouting

    The TMO operates the Project Scouting ServiceExternal link, a support service that initiates competitive third-party funded projects, assists in finding project partners, provides comprehensive information on funding programs, and supports the formal and strategic review of proposals.


    Ozkan Öguz