Friday, January 22, 2010

Archaeological Sites Digital Map

The Israeli Palestinian Archaeology Working Group has made available a searchable satellite map of every archaeological site (both those excavated or merely surveyed) in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This is an amazing resource. It is available either on the University of California library website, or through Google Maps. The USC map has more variables. For example, you can set the map to show only Iron Age or Ottoman sites. The Google Maps interface has a handy alphabetical index along the left side of the page.

Here's an exercise you can do. Take Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's archaeological guidebook The Holy Land, and look up each of the sites in your tour itinerary (see my blog post on the book). You can zoom in on the map so closely that you can actually see the contours and colors of the land. I'm awe-struck. But don't become impatient with it. Because the site names are, for the most part, in Arabic, you may need Murphy-O'Connor's book to figure out what's what. The Google Map interface option may be helpful because it juxtaposes the sites onto a map with modern place names nearby. You may have to play around with both of the maps to locate the various sites on your itinerary. And don't be intimidated by the Jerusalem area. Just keep zooming in (but not too far) until the number of sites does not overwhelm the page.

The USC dynamic map is only able to display 600 locations in a view. If more than 600 locations are returned for your search, please take one of the following actions:

-add more limits to your search
-zoom in closer by double-clicking the map or using the ± zoom tool on the left side of the map

Here is a description of the project from the website of the University of California Digital Library:

"This collection includes lists of archaeological sites that have been surveyed or excavated since Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. Since that time, the oversight of the antiquities of the area has devolved on two government bodies: the military administration's Staff Officer for Archaeology (SOA) in Judea and Samaria and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). The IAA, which is responsible for East Jerusalem, is a civil branch of government and its records are open for inspection. Some of the records of the Staff Officer for Archaeology in Judea and Samaria are being accessed in full for the first time as a result of the joint Israeli-Palestinian Archaeology Working Group. This involved a team of Israeli and a team of Palestinian archaeologists and cultural heritage professionals working in concert to create new data resources that document the single, unitary archaeological landscape of the southern Levant, which is now bisected by the modern borders.

The Israeli-Palestinian Archaeology Working Group sponsored and partly funded a research effort by Rafi Greenberg (Tel Aviv) and Adi Keinan (University College London) in order to gather details about each site in the West Bank excavated or surveyed between 1967 (updated periodically). These data include the site name(s), location on a GIS grid, description of the site's major components (e.g. olive oil press; ritual bath; sheikh's tomb; church, synagogue, village); details about the periods when the site was occupied (e.g. Neolithic, Byzantine [Christian]; Iron Age II; Ottoman); and information about the excavators or surveyors who gathered data about the site; and relevant publications/bibliography. The database file that contains this information initially will be available in a publication by Greenberg and Keinan. This collection page provides access to a database, which is a work in progress. We look forward to additions to this database file in the future as additional data are provided by Israelis, Palestinians and others.

The data contained in this database is also available in a visually searchable Google Map interface."