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Digital map reveals Israeli archaeology

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A searchable map detailing 40 years of Israeli archaeological work in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, developed for the USC Digital Library, has won the 2009 Open Archaeology Prize from the American Schools of Oriental Research.

A nonprofit organization founded in 1900 and located at Boston University, the American Schools of Oriental Research support the study and public understanding of peoples and cultures of the Near East. The prize, to be presented today at a professional meeting in New Orleans, recognizes “the best open-access, open-licensed, digital contribution to Near Eastern archaeology by an ASOR member.”

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Project leaders Lynn Swartz Dodd of USC and Rafi Greenberg of Tel Aviv University are expected to accept the award on behalf of an international team composed of Americans, Israelis and Palestinians.

The digital map apparently won the approval of jurors because it offers a body of information previously unavailable to the public about sites surveyed or excavated since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

USC’s website is part of an effort to establish a framework for the disposition of the region’s cultural heritage in the event of a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. Interactive satellite maps on the website show about 7,000 archaeological locales, including Shiloh, where the original tabernacle of the Hebrews is thought to have been located, and the Qumran caves, where the Dead Sea scrolls were found.

The public can access the West Bank and East Jerusalem Archaeology Database at http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/wbarc. Users must have Google Earth to get full use of the information.

-- Suzanne Muchnic


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