20,000 Endangered Archaeological Sites Now Catalogued in a New Online Database

We all know that civ­i­liza­tions, through the mil­len­nia, have had a way of ris­ing and falling. But many of us don’t yet appre­ci­ate the fact that even after the fall, a civ­i­liza­tion still has val­ue — and can still come to harm. Archae­ol­o­gists have used the traces left by bygone ear­ly cities, nations, and empires to gain an in-depth under­stand­ing of human his­to­ry, but they can only con­tin­ue doing so if the sites they study have the prop­er pro­tec­tion. The newest tool to advance that cause takes the form of the Endan­gered Archae­ol­o­gy in the Mid­dle East & North Africa (EAMENA) Data­base, a rich source of infor­ma­tion, includ­ing satel­lite imagery and pub­lished reports, about the threat­ened archae­o­log­i­cal sites and land­scapes in that part of the world.

Based at the Uni­ver­si­ties of Oxford, Leices­ter, and Durham and built with the Get­ty Con­ser­va­tion Insti­tute and World Mon­u­ments Fund’s open-source plat­form Arch­es, the Eng­lish- and Ara­bic-Lan­guage Data­base uses, “an inter­ac­tive map that traces the dis­tri­b­u­tion of sites under threat,” writes Smith­son­ian’s Brig­it Katz.

“You can click on select locales for infor­ma­tion about how the sites were once used, and the types of dis­tur­bances that have occurred over the years. A pre-pop­u­lat­ed search func­tion lets users browse through gen­er­al cat­e­gories — like ‘Pen­dants,’ a type of cir­cu­lar bur­ial enclo­sure that is asso­ci­at­ed with some 700 sites in the database—and through spe­cif­ic loca­tions.”

“Petra, Jeri­cho, and the ancient port of Byb­los are just three of the thou­sands of at-risk archae­o­log­i­cal sites scat­tered across the Mid­dle East and North Africa,” writes Hyper­al­ler­gic’s Claire Voon. “Aside from the destruc­tion wrought by wartime con­flict, they also face dam­age from loot­ing; agri­cul­tur­al prac­tices; the con­struc­tion of pipelines, refugee camps, and min­ing; and nat­ur­al ero­sion.” In a press release announc­ing the pro­jec­t’s launch late last month, EAMENA’s direc­tor, Dr. Robert Bew­ley said that “not all dam­age and threats to the archae­ol­o­gy can be pre­vent­ed, but they can be mit­i­gat­ed through the shar­ing of infor­ma­tion and spe­cial­ist skills.” And apart from the impor­tance of pre­serv­ing irre­place­able pieces of glob­al cul­tur­al her­itage, we might step back and con­sid­er that, the bet­ter we under­stand the tra­jec­to­ry of past civ­i­liza­tions, the more we can ensure a pos­i­tive one for our own.

Click here to vis­it the Endan­gered Archae­ol­o­gy in the Mid­dle East & North Africa (EAMENA) Data­base.

via Smith­son­ian 

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Cours­es in Ancient His­to­ry, Lit­er­a­ture & Phi­los­o­phy

Rome Reborn: Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of Ancient Rome, Cir­ca 320 C.E.

How the Egypt­ian Pyra­mids Were Built: A New The­o­ry in 3D Ani­ma­tion

Vis­it Pom­peii (also Stone­henge & Ver­sailles) with Google Street View

Beer Archae­ol­o­gy: Yes, It’s a Thing

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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