The Digital Atlas and Site Preservation

Spatial Search Capabilities in DAAHL

Rapid population growth and immigration have intensified the pace of urban and infrastructural development in the southern Levant, especially in Jordan, which has received three waves of refugees following the 1948 war, Operation Desert Storm, and the recent Iraq War. The development has had disastrous effects on the archaeological sites in the region. But the DAAHL can be used to help mitigate the adverse impacts of this development, which threatens to destroy one of the region's principal sources of income--archaeological tourism.

The film clip shown below illustrates how the DAAHL can be used to help preserve sites. The clip shows the Google Maps interface that's available to DAAHL users by clicking the "Spatial Search" link above. Users can digitize areas on the Google Maps interface that correspond to areas that would be affected adversely by development projects.

When a spatial search is submitted, the digitized polygon is buffered by about one kilometer, and the all the sites in the DAAHL database that are inside the buffered area are returned to the user as a Google Earth file. Google Earth opens automatically, as the film clip shows, and all sites in the search results are back-linked to the DAAHL database. Clicking the site link in the list or the site information balloon opens the site's information page, fed by the DAAHL database. The search allows alternatie search polygons to be shown with different site symbols, which allows multiple areas of potential effect to be digitized and explored for the alternative that creates the least impact on archaeological sites.

The Digital Atlas is a Site Preservation Tool

The developers of the Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land are committed to the preservation and presentation of archaeological sites and cultural resources. The DAAHL highlights our committment in two ways:

  1. The Spatial Search function in DAAHL can be used to help plan new development in ways that impact the fewest archaeological sites, as the movie clip to the left illustrates.
  2. The DAAHL features sites that are endangered by uncontrolled development, through the production of film clips using satellite imagery, Google Earht, and archaeological fieldwork to highlight what is being lost.

Highlighting Endangered Sites

The film clip shown here highlights one of the most intriguing, and most endangered archaeological sites in Jordan. Al-Murayghat is an Early bronze Age 9ca. 3600 to 2300 BCE0 ceremonial site on the western edge of the Madaba Plain, southwest of the town of Ma`in. In 1881, Claude Conder reported at least 150 dolmens at the site, but in 2000 and 2001, our fieldwork discovered only 100 were left, and many of them had collapsed. The site is being actively destroyed by two large gravel quarries, and the movie shows how this activity has probably destroyed the missing 50 dolmens. The study uses Geographic Information Systems and a high-resolution satellite image from May 31, 2007, donated to the project by DigitalGlobe, to create a viewshed analysis that points to the main quarry as the likely location of the missing dolmens.