September 11, 2008 -- The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) is working with the World Monuments Fund (WMF) and the Jordanian Department of Antiquities (DoA) to develop a new national geographic information system (GIS) to assist the department in inventorying, monitoring, and managing the thousands of archaeological sites in Jordan. The Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities (MEGA)–Jordan will be a Web-based, bilingual (Arabic-English) system that will be used by inspectors, archaeologists, scholars, and government planners involved in cultural heritage management and research. MEGA-Jordan is being developed by Farallon Geographics using open source software and is expected to be fully implemented in 2009. The scalable solution will subsequently be adapted for use in Iraq and possibly other countries in the region.
Jordan has an extraordinarily rich cultural heritage, having more than 10,000 recorded archaeological sites and tens of thousands more expected to be discovered. As part of the Fertile Crescent with Iraq, it was traditionally a crossroads between the Mediterranean, Arabia, and Mesopotamia and witnessed some of the most important developments in human civilization. Jordan was the center of the Nabataean empire, and is still graced by the amazing ruins of the city of Petra. It was linked to Hellenistic centers in Egypt and Syria and was for centuries part of the Roman Empire, as witnessed by sites such as the Amman Citadel and the Graeco-Roman city of Gerasa (or Jarash).
When fully deployed, MEGA-Jordan will be the primary planning and decision-making tool for the DoA, 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 control are especially crucial, permitting the DoA to assess the potential impact of planned development (urban sprawl, roadways, pipelines, reservoirs, construction of buildings, etc.) on archaeological sites.
Farallon Geographics worked with the GCI and DoA to define the use case scenarios, workflows and functional requirements for the technical solution.
“The objective of the GCI and WMF is to develop a long-term conservation solution that will be sustainable without requiring extensive training or maintenance costs,” said Alison Dalgity, GCI Project Manager. “Planners, government officials and researchers need to be able to review and understand information without technical GIS training. Software needs to be open source or low cost, because in Jordan a traditional GIS desktop license costs many times more than the annual salary of a highly trained technical employee.”
To meet these sustainability objectives, the MEGA-Jordan GIS will include the following:
• Ability to track the location and spatial extent of antiquities sites and the cultural elements (such as archeologically significant relics) that may be present at a site
• Easy-to-use, map-based user interface that does not require GIS knowledge or extensive technical training for general use
• Use of freely available or open source software technologies to minimize maintenance costs
• Capability of presenting information in both English and Standard Arabic
• Flexibility to accommodate new or customized business processes that users may wish to deploy in the future
The functional prototype for the GIS and mapping interface will be developed by Farallon and implemented in the spring of 2009, with the final MEGA-Jordan system scheduled for deployment in the fall of 2009. The open source software technologies will include PostGIS and GeoServer along with a public mapping front-end such as Google Maps.
“Farallon is delighted to be able to apply our expertise in geospatial technology and cutting edge Web 2.0 interfaces to help preserve the rich heritage of Jordan and Iraq,” said Dennis Wuthrich, CEO of Farallon Geographics. “We look forward to seeing this project expand to other countries throughout the Middle East.”
As part of their long-term Iraq Cultural Heritage Conservation Initiative, the GCI and WMF will work with Farallon Geographics to adapt the Jordanian GIS for deployment in Iraq immediately after it is deployed in Jordan.
About Farallon Geographics
Farallon Geographics ( www.fargeo.com), based in San Francisco, is a leader in the planning, implementation, and integration of GIS systems and software to support mission critical business functions. As systems integrators focused on geographical data, Farallon provides unique and unbiased strategic and technical implementation services for enterprise-scale GIS.
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