Maritime & Marine Helix Launch Event: A Chat with University of Malta Marine Archeologist, Professor Timmy Gambin

 Professor Timmy Gambin

Professor Timmy Gambin

In anticipation of the upcoming Maritime & Marine Helix launch event at the University of Malta, Vision2020 took a moment to discuss the new Helix community with Professor of Maritime Archeology, Timmy Gambin.

As an Associate Professor in Maritime Archaeology, Professor Gambin's role at the University of Malta Department of Classics includes both teaching and field research. Amongst various teaching responsibilities, he is also the coordinator of an international MA program in Global Maritime Archaeology in collaboration with the Maritime Museum of Western Australia.

Professor Gambin also directs a number of research initiatives, including the Phoenician Shipwreck project, the Underwater Aviation Archaeology Project as well as a large offshore survey, aimed at creating a map of Malta’s underwater cultural heritage.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Professor Gambin. Would you mind sharing with us the root of your passion in Maritime and Marine research?

I first got involved through my love for Maltese and Mediterranean history - which are both inextricably linked to the sea. It is no exaggeration to say that material remains from thousands of years of maritime history are present on the seabed and it is therefore absolutely necessary for us to explore, study and protect this precious and delicate underwater cultural resource.

Can you give us a taste of some of your ongoing research projects, or those similar to the goals of the Maritime & Marine Helix? 

Phoenician Shipwreck Project - first deep water excavation of a shipwreck by hums. We do this using rebreathers and mixed gases. This Phoenician site dates to 700 BC and is the oldest known shipwreck in the central Mediterranean.  

Results from this project are providing data that are revolutionising how we study and understand food production and the movement of goods in the economic realities of the Archaic mediterranean.

Given that this is no small undertaking and many research projects of this type can last for several years, how important is Horizon 2020 funding to your research, and to the University of Malta as a whole?

Horizon 2020 funding is of immense importance to our University. It enables us to collaborate with experts and top European institutions from the EU and beyond in subjects as diverse as space and insects. Furthermore, most of the research funding for Malta is derived from European sources, since national funding in Malta is still very limited.

What do you hope will be accomplished in the coming year as the University of Malta takes on a leadership role at the helm of the Maritime & Marine Helix?

Through this new Helix, we aim to bring together experts from diverse scientific and geographical backgrounds so as we may work together on common objectives. This is especially important because the sea provides spaces within the norms related to borders that do not exist.

By this I mean that both opportunities and threats transcend local, national and even international delineations. What is a problem in one locality today may well spread - unknown and undetected - to another.

The marine and maritime helix will hopefully act as a catalyst for innovative projects that explore trans-border initiatives.

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Moreover, except for projects such as MYOCEAN and Seadatacloud, marine and maritime aspects are conspicuous by their absence in the University of Malta’s participation in HORIZON 2020 initiatives. It is therefore imperative that the University of Malta makes the most of its nodal position in this helix to broaden its collaborative and participatory horizons.

My role will be accomplished with the support of the Research Support Services Directorate (RSSD). The mission of the RSSD is to provide comprehensive support to academics on all aspects of undertaking excellent research, from obtaining funding to carrying out experimental work.

RSSD are currently providing support in using the Vision 2020 network to build consortia through the Crowdhelix platform. They are also supporting the organisation of the Maritime & Marine Helix launch event to be held September 27-28 at the University of Malta. Registration is upon now until the 20th of September.