Israel Antiquities digitalizes archives

100 years of maps and documents from Jerusalem and Acre available for online research.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
January 16, 2013 18:37
1 minute read.
The original plan of the Holy Sepulcher Church

The original plan of the Holy Sepulcher Church 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority)

 
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Thousands of documents tracing archeological discoveries in Israel in the past 100 years will be published in an online database in the coming days, the Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday.

As part of a grant from the Landmarks Heritage Fund from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Antiquities Authority used special scanners to preserve thousands of maps, letters, engineering plans and other documents from Jerusalem and Acre dating back to before the British Mandate period.

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These files are already online at the archive website.

Researchers can find documents such as a letter from 1870 detailing excavations in the City of David/Silwan area; the original architectural plan of the Holy Sepulcher Church, which was prepared for renovating the site following a 1927 earthquake; or a British planning survey of the Temple Mount.

The website’s search features are clumsy and the Antiquities Authority is still working out some bugs, but the material brings the dusty archives of the Rockefeller Museum to the wider public for the first time. The littlevisited museum near the New Gate of the Old City was originally the home of the British Mandatory Department of Antiquities before becoming the Antiquities Authority.

Many of the items included in the archive are in danger of disintegrating because they were originally drawn on rice paper. Since most of the items are in English, the website is also in English and only offers general explanations in Hebrew.

Dr. Uzi Dahari, the deputy director of the Antiquities Authority, stressed that the 30,000 declared antiquities sites that make up Israel’s cultural heritage is “the largest and most important asset of the State of Israel.”

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“One of the many activities of the Antiquities Authority is the management and running of the scientific archive,” Dahari said in a statement released by the authority.

“The Antiquities Authority decided to transfer the archive to the digitalized media in order to disseminate the information throughout the world.”

Recently, the authority partnered with Google to launch a website with extremely high-quality scans of thousands of pieces of parchment from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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