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Last updated at 16:31 BST, Monday, 16 May 2011

Jordan launches largest online antiquities catalogue

Summary

18 April 2011

The newest and biggest online database of historic objects in the world has been launched in Jordan. The Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities, Mega, has information on all of Jordan's 11,000 historic sites.

Reporter
Dale Gavlak

A temple carved in the stone at Petra, Jordan

The temples at Petra, Jordan are a popular tourist attraction

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Report

Lying at the crossroads of three continents, Jordan hosts a number of World Heritage sites. The most famous is the spectacular 2,000 year-old rose rock city of Petra, which draws some one million tourists every year. But the country also is chock full of other historic sites dating from the Neolithic Age, through Biblical times to the Crusades and Ottoman times.

The online system will define the boundaries of each Jordanian site, which is key to preventing urban encroachment on antiquities zones. Government authorities can use the system to plan strategies for research and tourism development. Meanwhile, field inspectors can quickly report theft or damage by those visiting the sites.

Mega is expected to be used elsewhere, particularly in neighbouring Iraq, which has witnessed wide-scale damage and theft of its extensive archaeological treasures.

Dale Gavlak, BBC News, Amman

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Vocabulary

at the crossroads of

at the meeting point of

hosts

is home to

draws

attracts

chock full of

packed with

key to

essential in

urban encroachment

the expansion of towns and cities into areas where people do not normally live

antiquities zones

sites where items of historical importance have been dug up

field inspectors

here, experts who visit and study historic sites

neighbouring

directly next to, or adjoining

witnessed

here, experienced

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