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.
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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
Click to hear the vocabulary:
- at the crossroads of
at the meeting point of
is home to
- chock full of
- key to
- 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
directly next to, or adjoining