A team of archaeologists from UCLA, USC, Israel and Palestinian territories has developed the first map detailing Israeli archaeological activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem – much of it never publicly disclosed.
The fully searchable online map, which serves as a window into thousands of years worth of archaeological sites in the Holy Lands, has won the 2009 Open Archaeology Prize from American Schools of Oriental Research, the main organization for archaeologists working in the Middle East.
Built over several years through hundreds of hours of research, bolstered by freedom of information requests and, when necessary, a lawsuit in Israeli courts, the Web site provides interactive satellite maps showing locations of about 7,000 archaeological sites in the region, including:
• Shiloh, where the Bible locates the original tabernacle of the Hebrews
• Battir (Khirbet al Yahudiya), where the Romans crushed the Jewish rebellion
• the Qumran caves where the Dead Sea scrolls (the earliest copies of the Bible) were found
• many sites within Jerusalem.
The public can access the West Bank and East Jerusalem Archaeology Database at http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/wbarc/ (users should have Google Earth installed to enjoy the full power of the database).
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary