ancient city of Gerasa (modern Jarash)

In June 2009 a prototype of the Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities (MEGA) was installed at the Jordanian Department of Antiquities (DoA) for testing in three governorates. MEGA-Jordan is a geographic information system (GIS) created to help protect, conserve, and manage Jordan's vast number of archaeological sites. The system will maintain a kingdom-wide inventory that will standardize and centralize data on archaeological sites (including site and site element locations and boundaries), associated archaeological periods, and existing conditions and threats. MEGA-Jordan has been designed to facilitate controlling the impact of rapid development on Jordan's archaeology, to aid in heritage tourism planning, to help the DoA in formulating national research strategies, and to serve as a resource for archaeological scholarship.

MEGA-Jordan record image

MEGA-Jordan was developed with state-of-the-art tools so that it is extremely easy to use and requires no specialized training. The bilingual system (Arabic and English) is Web based and will permit regional DoA offices, other governmental authorities, and Jordanian and international researchers both to access data within the system and to contribute new data. It will also allow electronic input of data from the field. It is compatible with other GIS tools, enabling data to be shared among government agencies and researchers, and will allow printing of updated reports on the status of sites.

MEGA-Jordan uses open source software. Unlike proprietary systems, the source code is not exclusively owned by a private company and will not require expensive licensing fees. The code is readily accessible, enabling the DoA to update and modify the software as required to meet Jordan's future needs. This will also allow the system to be adapted for use in Iraq, in partnership with the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), as well as by other countries.

The results of testing MEGA-Jordan by the DoA will be used to make modifications so that the system best meets the department's work requirements. The full system will be deployed kingdom-wide in spring 2010, after which the system's developers will provide ongoing technical support to DoA staff for an additional two years.

MEGA is being developed through partnerships between the Getty Conservation Institute, the World Monuments Fund, and, separately, with the Jordanian Department of Antiquities and the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage.