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The use of digital imaging is the way of the future for teaching and research at Higher Education Institutions. Many research fields are strongly dependent on imaging and digital data when compared to other data sources due to ease of accessibility, large sample size and it’s non-destructive nature. This project is the first of its kind to create a large, comprehensive digital imaging collection of human skeletal material from South African osteological collections and to make them internationally accessible.


The development of peer-reviewed standard operating procedures (SOP’s) for the long-term storage of this material and its ethical use offers a level of quality assurance that will contribute to capacity building of academic resources.

Bakeng se Afrika project

The Bakeng se Afrika project was awarded a Capacity Building Grant in Higher Education (Erasmus+) from the European Union in 2018 and the project kicked off in 2019, bringing together six higher education institutions (three from South Africa and three from Europe) along with the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) to create a valuable national asset.

The digital skeletal repository will be stored at the University of Pretoria and will be made available online to national and international research institutions. Researchers and educators will be able to apply to use the data for use in research and teaching by submitting a research protocol and approval documentation from a health sciences research ethics committee.


During the three years of creation of the digital repository, the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University has an important role.

  • Scan odonto-skeletal elements from the Human Bone Collection stored at the Department of Anatomy, which will be accessible at SMU and internationally through the Bakeng se Afrika repository.
  • Develop the knowledge in imaging for education purposes and future research.
  • Develop research projects in several disciplines using virtual data.