The National Heritage Documentation and Managment   


In May 2007 the Department of Antiquities signed a memorandum of understanding with the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the World Monuments Fund (WMF) to up- date the “Jordanian Antiquities Data – base System (JADIS)”, developed in the nineties as a part of Cultural Management Project, to become “MEGA – Middle Eastern Data Base System”.
Project Objectives
The development and implementation of a bilingual Arabic-English, Web-based national geographic information system (GIS) for Jordan's Department of Antiquities (DoA) is the central focus of the Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities, Jordan (MEGA-J) project.
MEGA- J will serve as the primary tool for the DoA in its ongoing work to inventory, monitor, and manage Jordan's vast number of archaeological sites. In the process, it will greatly facilitate the work of DoA staff, Jordanian scholars and their colleagues worldwide, and, ultimately, play an important role in preserving Jordan's archaeological treasures, help better plan the vast on- going development in the investment and infrastructure in coordination with other institutions.
Project Overview
The MEGA-J project evolved from the ongoing Iraq Cultural Heritage Conservation Initiative, which was launched in 2004 and represents another collaboration of the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the World Monuments Fund (WMF). Unfortunately, the ongoing conflict in Iraq and related problems prevented the successful completion of one of the Initiative's primary goals—the development and implementation of a GIS to inventory the country's numerous archaeological sites and historic buildings.
Nonetheless, it was evident that Jordan has a similar need and, indeed, similar requirements for precisely such a system. Moreover, the DoA has been a strong supporting partner in the GCI-WMF Iraq Initiative. It was decided, therefore, to continue working on a new GIS, albeit implementing it initially in Jordan and developing it in such a way so as to make it adaptable and configurable for Iraq and possibly other Arabic-speaking countries.
The DoA, the GCI, and the WMF signed a memorandum of understanding in May 2007 mandating the development of a new GIS program, which is scheduled to be fully implemented and operational in 2010 and will subsequently be adapted for use in Iraq.
MEGA- J is a web based bilingual (Arabic- English) program, built by using open source programs. That enjoys the following characteristics:
1.      Sustainable — economic to implement; avoid specialized training to use; avoid specialized staffing to maintain.
2.      Accessible —web-based - available throughout country and beyond; interactive - archaeologists/researchers can use system and contribute data
3.      Consistent —standardized content helps ensure uniform field observations, and that data is easier to find, understand and compare
4.      Flexible (easy to adapt) —Open-source to promote adaptability and provide for low cost modification
5.      Compatible with other GIS — able to seamlessly exchange data with other standard GIS applications (e.g., ESRI ArcView; QGIS)
6.      Easy to use — Designed for users with no or limited knowledge of GIS; Extensive training not required; English and Arabic user interface (possibility to add other languages)
MEGA-J is envisioned as an electronic inventory capable of maintaining information on site location and extent, site characteristics, and site condition in an easy-to-use manner. Ultimately, it will help standardize and centralize information on archaeological sites throughout the country in a single system that will be focused primarily on the aims of heritage management and research. Provide a tool for monitoring and protection of archaeological sites.
The system will not initially attempt to incorporate all relevant information on any given archaeological site, although that remains the ultimate goal; it will, however, create a solid, extensible, flexible, and compatible foundation upon which to build and add almost limitless additional information in the future. The approach that has been adopted, based on thorough reviews, holds that an incremental process rather than simultaneous efforts on all fronts is a key to success.
The program will be the key system to be used for academical researchers, providing essential information on maps and spread sheets for further study and analysis about the archaeology of Jordan. Provided by search engine tools, both simple and complex, will aid the researcher to pull information about periods, elements and allocate them geographically and map them.
It is hoped that MEGA –J will become the DoA's preeminent planning and decision-making tool, addressing its needs and demands related to the legal protection of sites, site management, infrastructure and development control, World Heritage requirements, and development of national and regional research strategies. Infrastructure and development planning are especially crucial, and the GIS will permit the DoA to assess the potential impact of development projects (e.g., construction of buildings, roadways, pipelines) on or near archaeological sites. MEGA-J is also seen as a tool for coordinating heritage site data with other ministries (e.g., Tourism and Antiquities, Planning, Agriculture) and for academic research.
The System Components:
The system evolves around five main components.
The First Components: Requirement Gathering and Risk Analysis
Interview stakeholders and prepare detailed documentation of the requirements that the software will need to meet in order to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders; delineate scenarios or use cases that detail specific interactions that different groups of users may experience with the system; and identify all potential risks to the success of the project and appropriate mitigation strategies.
The Second Component: Data Development and Training
Establish a workflow for DoA staff to begin completing and correcting existing data on archaeological sites in Jordan in a way that prepares the new data for import into the GIS once developed. Train key DoA staff to undertake this process.
Eight employees of the DoA had been enrolled in “Train the Trainers “program developed by the Getty Conservation institute during April of 2010, to become the key person to roll out the program to the other DoA offices and foreign missions.
Work flow mechanisms had been developed. The DoA has assigned a scientific committee for quality assurance of information and data.
The Third Component: System Development a mockup of the system's user-interface for review by the project team; based on the agreed design, develop a fully functioning prototype of the system.
The system was developed based on international regulations such as :ICOMOS, Principles for the Recording of Monuments, Groups of Buildings and Sites (1996),  CIDOC and Council of Europe, Core Data Standard for Archaeological Sites and Monuments (1995), and Council of Europe, Guidance on Inventory and Documentation of the Cultural Heritage (revised 2009)
The Fourth Component: System Implementation and Training
Implement a pilot version of the prototype for access from the Amman and Irbid offices in Jordan; fine tune the system in response to users' feedback; once finalized, install the system's servers at the DoA Amman office and implement the system for countrywide access. The implementation is expected by the end of 2010.
The Fifth Component: Maintenance and Monitoring Support
Provide ongoing system monitoring and maintenance support, including monthly on-site visits for a period of two years following full system deployment to start after the soft roll out in 2010.