ONE-MA3 2017: The Restricted-Access Look Into Pompeii’s Past

June 27th, 2017ONE-MA3 2017

By Sierra Rosenzweig The ONE-MA3 team was granted a special visit to the restricted lab in Pompeii to see restorations in progress. Before we arrived at the lab, we had a lecture from researchers in Pompeii about the technology they use to measure movement of buildings and structures on the site over time. We also heard presentations about the materials and techniques that were used for ancient columns and how they were being restored.   ONE-MA3 hears a presentation about the workings of SAR Interferometry We then moved into the lab itself where researchers showed us a tiny climate-controlled room that is used to preserve artifacts that were extracted from the ruins. The room held a surprising amount of treasures for its miniature size! Every shelf and drawer was packed with clothes, food, tools, or other artifacts from the lives of the inhabitants of Pompeii. What caught our group's attention was the lab’s impressive collection of pigments that had once been used to make paintings around the city. The lab’s collection of pigments including multiple vibrant blues After our visit to the lab, conservator Bruno De Nigris led us on an extensive tour of the site. He pointed out all of the places where there was noticeable contrast between original structures and restoration. He also showed us the waterways of the city and the drainage systems that they had once used. The ancient city was a strikingly beautiful place, blooming with plant life, ready to be explored. Bruno De Nigris [...]

By Sierra Rosenzweig

The ONE-MA3 team was granted a special visit to the restricted lab in Pompeii to see restorations in progress. Before we arrived at the lab, we had a lecture from researchers in Pompeii about the technology they use to measure movement of buildings and structures on the site over time. We also heard presentations about the materials and techniques that were used for ancient columns and how they were being restored.

 

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ONE-MA3 hears a presentation about the workings of SAR Interferometry

We then moved into the lab itself where researchers showed us a tiny climate-controlled room that is used to preserve artifacts that were extracted from the ruins. The room held a surprising amount of treasures for its miniature size! Every shelf and drawer was packed with clothes, food, tools, or other artifacts from the lives of the inhabitants of Pompeii.

What caught our group’s attention was the lab’s impressive collection of pigments that had once been used to make paintings around the city.

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The lab’s collection of pigments including multiple vibrant blues

After our visit to the lab, conservator Bruno De Nigris led us on an extensive tour of the site. He pointed out all of the places where there was noticeable contrast between original structures and restoration. He also showed us the waterways of the city and the drainage systems that they had once used. The ancient city was a strikingly beautiful place, blooming with plant life, ready to be explored.

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Bruno De Nigris points out restoration work done on one of the columns

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A beautiful look through one of the doorways in Pompeii

This summer, Professor Admir Masic is leading a program on Materials in Art, Archaeology and Architecture (ONE-MA3), in which MIT undergraduates are conducting three weeks of fieldwork in Privernum, Pompeii and Turin as a prerequisite for the Fall 2017 MIT course, 1.057 Heritage Science and Technology.  The program involves real-world analysis of ancient infrastructures and materials and focus on teaching ways to improve sustainability of the future through the study of ancient successes.

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ONE-MA3 2017: The Journey Continues

June 27th, 2017ONE-MA3 2017

By Sierra Rosenzweig 6/23/2017 - Hidden Underneath the Vatican We were all sad to leave the castle in Priverno, but it was time to leave our fortress full of research gadgets and gelato for an adventure in the big city - Rome.   The ONE-MA3 team at the dig site in Privernum, enjoying the days of research before we left for Rome (Photo by Max Kessler) In Rome, we walked all day and all night, leaving no sight unseen. During the day, we were fortunate enough to be taken to Vatican City, not for a tour of the museum, but for a special set of lectures in labs hidden on the rooftop and in the basement. We heard from dozens of restorers working in the labs and got to see the restoration of art and artifacts in progress. They took us deep underneath the Vatican museum to see the XRD machines hard at work determining composition of artifacts from around the world! Our TAs Chad and Linda made their way to the Pantheon and gazed at the Oculus (Photo by Grace Kim) Our day didn’t stop after the lab visits. We then headed to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Sistine Chapel, and many other famous sites in the area during the day. We also got to see the brilliant night-life in the area. We traveled the city deep into the night, and found that the streets were even more packed with trinket-shoppers and musicians at 2am than [...]

By Sierra Rosenzweig

6/23/2017 – Hidden Underneath the Vatican

We were all sad to leave the castle in Priverno, but it was time to leave our fortress full of research gadgets and gelato for an adventure in the big city – Rome.

 

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The ONE-MA3 team at the dig site in Privernum, enjoying the days of research before we left for Rome (Photo by Max Kessler)

In Rome, we walked all day and all night, leaving no sight unseen. During the day, we were fortunate enough to be taken to Vatican City, not for a tour of the museum, but for a special set of lectures in labs hidden on the rooftop and in the basement. We heard from dozens of restorers working in the labs and got to see the restoration of art and artifacts in progress. They took us deep underneath the Vatican museum to see the XRD machines hard at work determining composition of artifacts from around the world!

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Our TAs Chad and Linda made their way to the Pantheon and gazed at the Oculus (Photo by Grace Kim)

Our day didn’t stop after the lab visits. We then headed to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Sistine Chapel, and many other famous sites in the area during the day. We also got to see the brilliant night-life in the area. We traveled the city deep into the night, and found that the streets were even more packed with trinket-shoppers and musicians at 2am than during the day. The bands by the river played on into the night, long after we turned in and fell asleep.

6/25/17 – A Sunny Day in Pompeii

The next stop on our Italian adventure was Pompeii. We were tasked to walk through the ruins of the ancient city to acquaint ourselves with the place before we went to any labs or did any research in the area. We walked through the city – into every building and courtyard available and gazed at the artwork in the area.

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A group of ONE-MA3 students discussing one of the paintings in Pompeii

We spent the whole day walking through more than a hundred acres of the ancient city in the hot sun. We saw bath houses, brothels, and amphitheaters on our trek, and even made sure to explore the statues and mosaics sheltered in the buildings.

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Omar Laris gazes into the courtyard from the inside of one of the ancient buildings in Pompeii

By the end of our many-hour long walk through Pompeii, we were exhausted and warm from the hot sun. We ended the day with some gelato to cool off in this historic site.

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Muji and Omar enjoy gelato by the ruins after a long day in the sun

This summer, Professor Admir Masic is leading a program on Materials in Art, Archaeology and Architecture (ONE-MA3), in which MIT undergraduates are conducting three weeks of fieldwork in Privernum, Pompeii and Turin as a prerequisite for the Fall 2017 MIT course, 1.057 Heritage Science and Technology.  The program involves real-world analysis of ancient infrastructures and materials and focus on teaching ways to improve sustainability of the future through the study of ancient successes.

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ONE-MA3 2017: Making a Model

June 22nd, 2017ONE-MA3 2017

By Sierra Rosenzweig Today, the ONE-MA3 team traveled to the Archaeological Museum to view mosaics extracted from the dig site in Privernum. We were curious how grand the mosaics would have looked when they were still spanning the floors of the ancient houses. We then realized that we had the technology to make our curiosity into a reality! We came up with a plan to use the DPI to scan a large mosaic in the museum and stitch the scan to another scan that we had collected from the dig site in Privernum. By stitching the two 3D images together, we could produce a virtual model of the mosaic as it would have looked in its original place. Me and Chad using the DPI to scan a mosaic in the museum (Photo by Max Kessler) Once we had our scans, we spent a day in the castle trying to construct our 3D model. Unfortunately, we ran into computer trouble before we got to stitching any images together. As it turns out, the 3D images were far too big for the laptops we were using to handle. We did manage to process some smaller scans of statues that we had viewed in the museum, but our mosaic stitching project was put on hold until we return to MIT where better computers await. The laptops failed to respond when we tried to process our large scans After our mosaic project came to a disappointing halt, Professor Masic posed another challenge to us [...]

By Sierra Rosenzweig

Today, the ONE-MA3 team traveled to the Archaeological Museum to view mosaics extracted from the dig site in Privernum. We were curious how grand the mosaics would have looked when they were still spanning the floors of the ancient houses. We then realized that we had the technology to make our curiosity into a reality! We came up with a plan to use the DPI to scan a large mosaic in the museum and stitch the scan to another scan that we had collected from the dig site in Privernum. By stitching the two 3D images together, we could produce a virtual model of the mosaic as it would have looked in its original place.

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Me and Chad using the DPI to scan a mosaic in the museum (Photo by Max Kessler)

Once we had our scans, we spent a day in the castle trying to construct our 3D model. Unfortunately, we ran into computer trouble before we got to stitching any images together. As it turns out, the 3D images were far too big for the laptops we were using to handle. We did manage to process some smaller scans of statues that we had viewed in the museum, but our mosaic stitching project was put on hold until we return to MIT where better computers await.

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The laptops failed to respond when we tried to process our large scans

After our mosaic project came to a disappointing halt, Professor Masic posed another challenge to us in order to take our minds off of the mosaics. The challenge turned out to be a head-to-head pasta cook-off!

With the instruction of the Italian chefs in the castle, we spit into two teams and crafted pasta that was to be judged by Professor Masic and his colleagues. The competition was intense, and both teams put up a fight for the top chef spot. At the end of the day, we had two batches of delicious pasta that we enjoyed during a candle lit dinner in the castle.

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This summer, Professor Admir Masic is leading a program on Materials in Art, Archaeology and Architecture (ONE-MA3), in which MIT undergraduates are conducting three weeks of fieldwork in Privernum, Pompeii and Turin as a prerequisite for the Fall 2017 MIT course, 1.057 Heritage Science and Technology.  The program involves real-world analysis of ancient infrastructures and materials and focus on teaching ways to improve sustainability of the future through the study of ancient successes.

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ONE-MA3 2017: Mortars and Mosaics

June 22nd, 2017ONE-MA3 2017

By Sierra Rosenzweig It was a day of creation for the ONE-MA3 team. Today, Italian experts came to the castle we’re staying at to teach us about ancient Roman mortar making techniques. The experts lead us through the classic recipe for mixing Roman mortar and demonstrated making a batch of it for us. Professor Masic challenged the group to construct a mortar that was better than the ancient recipe. He tasked us to make one that was stronger, lighter and contains less pollutant than what the Romans used. Muji leading the team in strategizing the best blend of materials for our mortar We also learned from the experts that mortar is commonly used in walls, bricks and other structural objects. We didn’t need to create a wall with our mortar, so we used our extra newly mixed blend to create some “mortarmen” (and a mortardog). Our mortar goes to good use making mortarmen After our lesson on mortars, another expert taught us how the ancient Romans made their mosaics. We then learned the techniques for cutting stone and learned how to copy pen-drawn designs onto grout to create our own mosaics. Once we had our designs set onto the grout, we laid our stone on top and formed our wonderful mosaics. Chad (left) shows his anchor mosaic while Zoe (right) works on her own masterpiece. This summer, Professor Admir Masic is leading a program on Materials in Art, Archaeology and Architecture (ONE-MA3), in which MIT undergraduates are conducting three weeks [...]

By Sierra Rosenzweig

It was a day of creation for the ONE-MA3 team. Today, Italian experts came to the castle we’re staying at to teach us about ancient Roman mortar making techniques. The experts lead us through the classic recipe for mixing Roman mortar and demonstrated making a batch of it for us.

Professor Masic challenged the group to construct a mortar that was better than the ancient recipe. He tasked us to make one that was stronger, lighter and contains less pollutant than what the Romans used.

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Muji leading the team in strategizing the best blend of materials for our mortar

We also learned from the experts that mortar is commonly used in walls, bricks and other structural objects. We didn’t need to create a wall with our mortar, so we used our extra newly mixed blend to create some “mortarmen” (and a mortardog).
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Our mortar goes to good use making mortarmen

After our lesson on mortars, another expert taught us how the ancient Romans made their mosaics. We then learned the techniques for cutting stone and learned how to copy pen-drawn designs onto grout to create our own mosaics. Once we had our designs set onto the grout, we laid our stone on top and formed our wonderful mosaics.

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Chad (left) shows his anchor mosaic while Zoe (right) works on her own masterpiece.

This summer, Professor Admir Masic is leading a program on Materials in Art, Archaeology and Architecture (ONE-MA3), in which MIT undergraduates are conducting three weeks of fieldwork in Privernum, Pompeii and Turin as a prerequisite for the Fall 2017 MIT course, 1.057 Heritage Science and Technology.  The program involves real-world analysis of ancient infrastructures and materials and focus on teaching ways to improve sustainability of the future through the study of ancient successes.

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ONE-MA3 2017: Fieldwork Begins

June 21st, 2017ONE-MA3 2017

By Sierra Rosenzweig   Today was day one on the job for the ONE-MA3 crew. To get a handle on the archaeological site that we would be working with, we went to the museum in Priverno and studied the sculptures, mosaics, and maps of the ancient site. We then toured the site with one of the native Italians before starting work in the area. While walking around, I saw something I had never seen before – snails growing on the grass and crabs walking around on dry land, miles and miles from the ocean. Snails moving up the strands of grass on the archaeological site We got down to business using the DPI to scan one of the degrading rooms at the site. We will use the scan to reconstruct a 3D image of the degrading structure. We also used drones to collect aerial photographs of the archaeological site which we will stitch together to make a 3D image of the entire site. My personal favorite part of our work in Privernum was the uncovering, cleaning, and scrubbing of the degrading mosaics that had been there for thousands of years. At first the mosaics were dirty, brown, and barely recognizable. After cleaning, we revealed patterns, scenes, and colors. We took dozens of pictures at different angles of the mosaics so that we could create a model of them using photogrammetry. Omar is using DPI to scan one of the structures in Privernum One of the ancient mosaics that we uncovered [...]

By Sierra Rosenzweig

 

Today was day one on the job for the ONE-MA3 crew. To get a handle on the archaeological site that we would be working with, we went to the museum in Priverno and studied the sculptures, mosaics, and maps of the ancient site. We then toured the site with one of the native Italians before starting work in the area. While walking around, I saw something I had never seen before – snails growing on the grass and crabs walking around on dry land, miles and miles from the ocean.

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Snails moving up the strands of grass on the archaeological site

We got down to business using the DPI to scan one of the degrading rooms at the site. We will use the scan to reconstruct a 3D image of the degrading structure. We also used drones to collect aerial photographs of the archaeological site which we will stitch together to make a 3D image of the entire site.

My personal favorite part of our work in Privernum was the uncovering, cleaning, and scrubbing of the degrading mosaics that had been there for thousands of years. At first the mosaics were dirty, brown, and barely recognizable. After cleaning, we revealed patterns, scenes, and colors. We took dozens of pictures at different angles of the mosaics so that we could create a model of them using photogrammetry.

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Omar is using DPI to scan one of the structures in Privernum

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One of the ancient mosaics that we uncovered and rinsed off in Privernum

After a full day in the field scrubbing mosaics, the group decided to head back to the beach for a quick swim and some soccer while we watched the sunset over the water.

As usual, the day ended with a multi-course meal from our wonderful chef in the castle and while I ate, I looked through my many pictures of the day’s uncovered ancient artwork.

This summer, Professor Admir Masic is leading a program on Materials in Art, Archaeology and Architecture (ONE-MA3), in which MIT undergraduates are conducting three weeks of fieldwork in Privernum, Pompeii and Turin as a prerequisite for the Fall 2017 MIT course, 1.057 Heritage Science and Technology.  The program involves real-world analysis of ancient infrastructures and materials and focus on teaching ways to improve sustainability of the future through the study of ancient successes.

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Addressing rising sea levels in Venice: the MOSE project

June 21st, 2017Undergraduate Student Life

By René Andrés García Franceschini Night fell two days prior to our departure as my teammates and I made the trek to our makeshift classroom, on the opposite side of the construction site. The mammoth MOSE gates towering over the otherwise flat construction site hardly hampered the 35mph Bora Winds rushing down the Adriatic Sea. Screeches of strange creatures, artificially produced to prevent seagulls from damaging the gates, accompanied the howling winds in an uncomfortable chorus. This oddly sinister backdrop foreshadowed our equally grim projections: right now, Venice suffers from sea level events above 110cm 30.2 hours a year. At 110cm, many parts of the city, including the historic Piazza San Marco, are flooded. Left unchecked, by 2050 it will suffer 266.5 hours per year of high sea level events, an 880% increase. By 2100, it will suffer 1605 hours per year, an increase of 5300%. Standing right outside the classroom, the MOSE gates awaited deployment; once installed, these gates would guard Venice from the devastating effect of recurring high sea level events. The MOSE (MOdulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico) megaproject is part of several projects that the Consorzio di Venezia Nuova (CVN) has done to protect the city of Venice as well as the neighboring towns and the lagoon ecosystem. CVN, in partnership with MIT and the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia (IUAV), developed Reinventing Places, a workshop with the purpose of bringing together students from MIT and IUAV to learn in a collaborative environment. Inside the MOSE control room [...]

By René Andrés García Franceschini

Night fell two days prior to our departure as my teammates and I made the trek to our makeshift classroom, on the opposite side of the construction site. The mammoth MOSE gates towering over the otherwise flat construction site hardly hampered the 35mph Bora Winds rushing down the Adriatic Sea. Screeches of strange creatures, artificially produced to prevent seagulls from damaging the gates, accompanied the howling winds in an uncomfortable chorus.

This oddly sinister backdrop foreshadowed our equally grim projections: right now, Venice suffers from sea level events above 110cm 30.2 hours a year. At 110cm, many parts of the city, including the historic Piazza San Marco, are flooded. Left unchecked, by 2050 it will suffer 266.5 hours per year of high sea level events, an 880% increase. By 2100, it will suffer 1605 hours per year, an increase of 5300%. Standing right outside the classroom, the MOSE gates awaited deployment; once installed, these gates would guard Venice from the devastating effect of recurring high sea level events.

The MOSE (MOdulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico) megaproject is part of several projects that the Consorzio di Venezia Nuova (CVN) has done to protect the city of Venice as well as the neighboring towns and the lagoon ecosystem. CVN, in partnership with MIT and the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia (IUAV), developed Reinventing Places, a workshop with the purpose of bringing together students from MIT and IUAV to learn in a collaborative environment.

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Inside the MOSE control room with a CVN employee.

Through various lectures and field trips, we learned about the history of Venice and of Pellestrina (the island on which we were living, on the coastal side of the lagoon), about meteorological trends and events in the northern Adriatic Sea, about massive projects done around the globe to prevent coastal cities from flooding, among a myriad of other topics.

Among these projects, the standout is the aforementioned MOSE project. The MOSE system is a series of modular gates that are submerged at the three inlets of the Venetian lagoon (at Lido, Malamocco and Chioggia). The gates will remain submerged as long as the sea level does not go above 110cm, to allow for the passage of ships and the flushing of the lagoon. The latter is especially important, as Venice’s lack of any sewage treatment facilities necessitates that the water from the lagoon be flushed to make the lagoon inhabitable.

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MOSE gates in the construction side, ready to be deployed.

It’s truly a testament to human creativity and scientific ingenuity to be able to develop a structure of this magnitude, where the areas of structural engineering, control, coastal dynamics and environmental science must come together with a miniscule margin for error. However, the MOSE story is also a tale of how political sensationalism, corruption and the lack of public awareness and input can prove detrimental to the development of megaprojects. Originally scheduled to be finished by the end of 2010, the project is still ongoing seven years later.

To conclude the workshop, the students were divided into teams and tasked with a specific objective for a final project. Project topics ranged from gathering information from the public about the socioeconomic state of Pellestrina, to envisioning a way to reignite Venice not only for the tourists, but for the actual residents. Our project was a spatial and statistical analysis of how Venice and Pellestrina would be affected by the increase of high sea level events.

While on that sinister night we concluded that the future looks bleak for Venice from a meteorological point of view, there were good news to be had: the full implementation of the MOSE system will secure large parts of the city from flooding!

Despite this, some questions remain. How will the increase of MOSE activity in the coming decades balance out with the need for the lagoon to flush? If we are negligent with our carbon emissions, will our projections be underestimating the full force of high sea level events? While the MOSE will keep Venice safe for now, much more work needs to be done for Venice to remain safe in the coming century.

Thankfully, our work is still ongoing. With the mentorship of Professor Paola Malanotte, our team hopes to publish our results. All three teams will also present their work in September back at MIT. Hopefully, though, this work continues for many years to come. The experience of exploring Venice and of witnessing these enormous projects firsthand was marvelous, and anyone at MIT owes it to themselves to do so as well.

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