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CyI's “SHIELD” Project Ranked First in Europe for the JPICH Conservation, Protection and Use Joint Call

Highlighted for the excellence of the novel concept, multidisciplinary consortium, and high-level of infrastructures available for the project (, CyI’s “SHIELD” (Safeguard Heritage In Endangered Looted Districts) focuses on the customization of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for the fight against archaeological looters. The main aim of “SHIELD” is both to monitor, but mainly to prevent illegal excavations.

diagramThe project presents State-of-the-art techniques in the fields of Sensors and Imaging (SHIELD eyes), Aerial Platforms (SHIELD body), Machine Learning and Computer Vision (SHIELD brain). “SHIELD” is timely in the EU, and worldwide agenda as the current level of maturity and reliability of aerial platforms, sensors development, embedded processing, imaging techniques, AI and machine learning algorithms allows their integration seamlessly.

“SHIELD” Project is led by Dr. Dante Abate, Associate Research Scientist at the Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center (STARC) and the Andreas Pittas Art Characterization Labs (APAC Labs) of The Cyprus Institute in collaboration with the USRL team of the CARE-C. The international consortium comprised also the Fondazione Bruno Kessler (Italy), the INESC TEC - Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (Portugal), and several international stakeholders.

It is also important to emphasize that project builds on the close collaboration between CyI and STARC/ APAC Labs with the Cyprus Department of Antiquities and the Cyprus Police to tackle the challenges of Heritage at Risk and more specifically to use advanced technologies to prevent and monitor against the looting and illegal circulation of antiquities. This partnership was formalized through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding signed on the 13th of November 2019 ( to strengthen their collaboration on issues of common interest related to the use of digital technologies (aerial and terrestrial) for the protection of archaeological monuments and sites.

“SHIELD” was selected among a total of 63 proposals evaluated eligible for the call. Eligible proposals were first remotely assessed on the formal evaluation criteria defined in the call by a minimum of two independent international peer reviewers. An International Assessment Panel peer reviewed and ranked eligible proposals. Ten proposals were selected for funding by the national funding agencies participating in the JPICH Conservation, Protection, and Use Call and according to the order of the final ranking lists elaborated by the International Assessment Panel.