Using Google to Police Sites in Jordan (and elsewhere perhaps)

An Image of the MEGA database in action

Randy Kennedy has a fascinating piece in the NY Times detailing the Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities (MEGA), which uses google earth satellite images to catalog and crowdsource sites and the conditions which may be threatening them.  the Getty Conservation Institute with financial support from the World Monuments Fund has been building the system over the last for years.  Kennedy reports the project will “allow archaeologists and conservators there, for the first time, to gain access to decades’ worth of records about Jordan’s sites and to monitor the condition of those sites much more easily”. 

Lest the website be used by looters to find sites, the information is currently restricted to a select group of individuals.  This project was originally designed to be implemented in Iraq, however “the chaos and violence in Iraq ultimately prevented the Getty from being able to work with officials there to create what was originally planned to be a local database program, not one that utilized the Web.”  There are plans to implement the system in Iraq soon, and if this program works well in Jordan, and the middle east, this program could be implemented just about anywhere else in the world. 

  1. Randy Kennedy, Getty Institute Project in Jordan Helps Track Antiquities, The New York Times, August 24, 2010, (last visited Aug 26, 2010).
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