CENIC Recognizes UCSD and HU Teams for Remote Collaboration on Underwater Archeological Dig

In recognition of work to reshape archeological studies, the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology at UC San Diego and the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa in Israel are being awarded the 2021 CENIC Innovations in Networking Award for Research Applications.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many archeological digs were put on hold, as collaborating researchers from various international universities could not travel to conduct fieldwork as a team. Using the technological possibilities of the Pacific Research Platform, supported by CENIC’s 400-gigabit research network, the teams at UC San Diego and the University of Haifa not only went ahead with their expedition but also drastically accelerated data analysis times.

Collaborating remotely on an underwater excavation of a late Stone Age Neolithic village located off northern Israel’s Carmel Coast, University of Haifa (UH) researchers performed the fieldwork while UC San Diego researchers helped process and analyze the findings virtually. UH researchers scuba dived at the underwater site, excavating and collecting artifacts, all while wearing GoPro cameras and live-streaming video of their underwater movements. UC San Diego researchers received raw data from the divers daily and used the computational resources of the PRP, along with photogrammetry, the process of using images to create 3D models, to recreate the site virtually, print artifacts in 3D, and examine the information, often within mere hours. Due to the 10-hour time difference, one team was able to work while the other team slept.

Indeed, work by the two international teams has led to a new University of Haifa — University of California San Diego Joint Marine Archaeology Field Station in Akko, Israel. Sponsored by the Koret Foundation in San Francisco, this state-of-the-art research facility opens tomorrow on April 20. The research station will host qualified scientific diver students on annual field school seminars and will provide students and faculty from both the U.S. and Israel with unique opportunities for original research concerning climate, environmental, and culture change.

The CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards are presented each year to highlight exemplary people, projects, and organizations that leverage high-bandwidth networking. This year, the awards emphasize remarkable adaptations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that in some ways has transformed how research and education are conducted.

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