MEGA-Jordan launched and now available at megajordan.org


screenshot of megajordan.org
 

On April 12, 2011, in a ceremony in Amman, the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, the Getty Conservation Institute, and World Monuments Fund officially launched operation of the Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities, Jordan (MEGA–Jordan). At the ceremony, Jordanian Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan remarked that accurate documentation was "a vital beginning to managing and securing our archaeological heritage and to ensuring that future generations will also benefit from the wealth of the past." See press release of April 12, 2011. View the system and videos showing all its functionality at: megajordan.org


Amman citadel
 

The development and implementation of a bilingual Arabic-English, Web-based national geographic information system (GIS) for Jordan's Department of Antiquities (DoA) is the central focus of the Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities (MEGA)–Jordan project.

MEGA–Jordan includes the following components:

The GIS will serve as the primary tool for the DoA in its ongoing work to inventory, monitor, and manage Jordan's vast number of archaeological sites. In the process, it will greatly facilitate the work of DoA leadership and other staff, as well as Jordanian and international scholars, and, ultimately will play an important role in preserving Jordan's archaeological treasures.

Overview
The MEGA–Jordan project was launched as a collaboration of the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the World Monuments Fund (WMF) with the DoA for the development and implementation of a GIS to inventory and manage Jordan's numerous archaeological sites.

Interface for MEGA-Jordan database
 

The DoA, the GCI, and the WMF signed a memorandum of understanding in May 2007 mandating the development of a new GIS, development of which was completed in June 2010. MEGA–Jordan is, at its core, an electronic inventory capable of maintaining information on site location and extent, site characteristics, and site condition in an easy-to-use manner. Ultimately it will help standardize and centralize information on archaeological sites throughout the country in a single system focused primarily on the aims of heritage management and research.

It is hoped that MEGA–Jordan will become the DoA's preeminent planning and decision-making tool, addressing its needs and demands related to the legal protection of sites, site management, infrastructure and development control, World Heritage requirements, and development of national and regional research strategies. Infrastructure and development planning are especially crucial, and the GIS will permit the DoA to assess the potential impact of development projects (e.g., construction of buildings, roadways, pipelines) on or near archaeological sites. MEGA–Jordan is also seen as a tool for coordinating archaeological site data with Jordanian government ministries (e.g., Tourism and Antiquities, Planning, Agriculture) and for academic research.

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The fundamental design requirements identified for the new system include the following:

  • The system should be a map-based, Web-enabled inventory with access to data from all of DoA's regional officess.
  • It should have a user interface in both English and standard Arabic and be capable of handling data in both languages.
  • The technical tools (i.e., software) used to build the system must be low-cost (or no-cost wherever feasible), open source, non-proprietary, and accessible both technically and financially by those who will need to support, maintain, and sustain the system for many years to come.
  • The system must be easy to use and not require extensive training for the general user—i.e., users need not be GIS experts.
  • It must have wide compatibility with similar systems of Jordanian national and local authorities, such as the Lands and Survey Department, city governments, and the like.
  • The system must allow the export of data that is fully compatible with other GIS tools such as Google Earth™, Quantum GIS, and ESRI's ArcView.
  • The system must include the ability to record detailed data on monitoring of sites and site elements and archaeological surveys.
  • It should be readily customizable to accommodate changes in practices that the DoA may make in the future.
  • It must ensure, wherever possible, consistent and valid entry of information.
  • It must provide the ability to prepare data electronically from the field.
  • The system must include easy, instant reporting capabilities.
  • All data must be secure and appropriate back-up strategies need to be implemented.
  • The system should provide various levels of user access based on user roles—i.e., some users will have full access to all data, while others may only have read-access to certain areas of the database.
  • The system must be developed in such a way that the addition of tools to inventory, monitor, and help manage heritage buildings can be added without major redevelopment of the system.

Last updated: June 2012

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