Following discussions with the director of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (DoA), Dr. Fawwaz Al-Khraysheh, the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the World Monuments Fund (WMF) signed a memorandum of understanding in May 2007 with the 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 new system, Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities (MEGA)–Jordan, will be a Web-based, bilingual (Arabic-English) system that will allow easy access for both DoA staff and for scholars conducting research. MEGA-Jordan is expected to be fully implemented in 2009 and will subsequently be adapted for use in Iraq.
As an initial step in this new collaboration, the GCI and WMF held a workshop in June 2007 for DoA personnel in Amman at the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR), to introduce the process of developing the new GIS for Jordan. In the workshop, DoA personnel discussed their requirements for the content and functionality of the system and refined their skills in topographic map reading and the use of global positioning system (GPS) devices, which will be essential for locating sites and establishing site boundaries for the new system. The workshop was attended by nineteen DoA inspectors and sixteen members of the DoA team assigned to the GIS development effort.
In February 2008 the GCI and WMF installed a new data collection and processing system at DoA offices in Amman and Irbid, and they trained staff to begin completing and correcting the existing data for over ten thousand site records from the DoA's previous GIS (JADIS), so that they can be incorporated into MEGA–Jordan.
Under the auspices of the Iraq Cultural Heritage Conservation Initiative, the GCI and WMF also signed a separate memorandum of understanding in late 2007 with the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) to renew their commitments to the collaborative project launched in 2004 (see Conservation, vol. 20, no. 5). The Iraq Initiative has received generous support from Jordan's Department of Antiquities—including hosting the initiative's activities in Jordan and offering access to Jordanian sites during training sessions.
In December 2007 the GCI and WMF held a workshop in Amman at ACOR for twenty-four high-ranking staff from the SBAH, including Acting Chair Dr. Amira Edan, department heads, and directors of thirteen of Iraq's eighteen provincial offices. The workshop focused on gaining insight into the existing working conditions in Iraq and understanding the SBAH's current priorities, as well as planning activities for 2008 and 2009. Several discussions were also held to initiate the process of gathering SBAH's requirements for the new GIS for Iraq (MEGA-Iraq), which will be developed soon after the Jordanian system is implemented.