Saturday, March 06, 2010

Middle East Geo-Database for Antiquities

This sort of database is an important tool for any country seeking to develop a robust national heritage conservation program that can rationally set priorities for conservation. The only caveat is that the recording of sites is "based on the existing national registry collected by the SBAH and using available surveys". If those data-collecting mechanisms are not regularly and frequently updated -- and if time-series data is not maintained -- then there will be no way to promptly assess where damage is being done presently to sites by looting, development projects, etc.

The next step for GCI, World Monument Fund, and UNESCO is to persuade Google (whose head visited Iraq and announced Google would digitize the Iraq National Museum's holdings) to work with them and the Iraq SBAH to
a) link the registered sites to GoogleEarth satellite imagery;
b) develop a computerized program designed to compare time-series images for sites and identify sites that have been damaged or looted.

Such a project for Iraq could serve as a pilot project that could then be implemented worldwide.

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