On the 9th of November 2020, the STARC/APAC and CARE-C/USRL Labs of The Cyprus Institute, in collaboration with the Fondazione Bruno Kessler (Italy) and the Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (Portugal), organized the Kick-Off Meeting for the “Safeguard Heritage In Endangered Looted Districts” (SHIELD) Project.
The meeting, organized online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, involved the participation of key collaborators such as the Department of Antiquity of Cyprus, The Cyprus Police, The Israeli Antiquity Authority and ICOMOS. The meeting featured presentations by cultural heritage authorities concerning the Looting and Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property in Israel and Cyprus, as well as, an international perspective on the problem offered by ICOMOS-ICHAM (Session 1). The second part of the meeting focused on technical presentations by the consortium partners related to “SHIELD” project Work Packages.
“SHIELD” project focuses on the customization of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) against the activities of archaeological looters. The main aim of this project is to both monitor and prevent illegal excavations. “SHIELD” was selected among a total of 63 proposals that were evaluated as eligible for the JPICH Conservation, Protection, and Use Call. Ten proposals were selected for funding by the national funding agencies. According to the final ranking list provided by the International Assessment Panel, “SHIELD” scored first in Europe.
It is also important to highlight that the 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.