University of Malta

The Ancient Cisterns Project
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The Ancient Cisterns Project (2007-present)

Institutions: Harvey Mudd University, California Polytechnic State University Foundation and Department of Classics and Archaeology, University of Malta

Collaborating partners: Heritage Malta, Soprintendenza del Mare (Sicily), Wignacourt Museum, Cathedral Museum (Mdina).

Directors: Dr Timmy Gambin, Prof. Chris Clark, Dr Zoe Wood and Dr Jane Lehr

Main sponsor: National Science Foundation - USA.


With support from this International Research Experience for Students (IRES) grant, engineering students from California Polytechnic State University, Princeton University and Harvey Mudd University have travelled to Malta and Italy to collaborate with Maltese archaeologists to investigate previously unexplored underwater archaeological sites. This project has focused on ancient cisterns located beneath fortresses, private homes, and churches. Using sonar-equipped Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV), students developed (1) Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) algorithms to construct 3D maps, and (2) new 3D visualization techniques for underwater robotics applications. The research activities bring together an international team of archaeologists, robotics and visualization experts and has a range of broader impacts. For example, by systematically surveying cisterns, investigators are better able to understand the development of Malta's ancient water storage systems and subsequently inform current water management strategy and policy. The robotics and visualization technology developed will also be relevant to applications in oceanography, biology, homeland security and defence. Throughout the project, student investigators communicated their results to multiple audiences. 
To visit the website of this project click here.


The Malta Cistern Mapping Project: Underwater Robot Mapping and
Localization within Ancient Tunnel Systems White, C., Hiranandani, D.,
Olstad, C., Buhagiar, K., Gabmin, T., Clark, C.M. Journal of Field
Robotics, 2010.

Mapping and Visualizing Ancient Water Storage Systems with an ROV - An
Approach Based on Fusing Stationary Scans within a Particle Filter,
McVicker, W., Forrester, J., Gambin, T., Lehr, J., Wood, Z.J., and
Clark, C.M., Proc. of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics
and Biomimetics (ROBIO2012), China, Dec. 14-18, 2012.

Last Updated: 22 August 2016

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