Project Description

(to search the database)

The Theban Necropolis Geological Mapping Project of the University of Charleston and the Serapis Research Institute announces the creation of the On-line Geographical Information System for the Theban Necropolis (OLGIS-TN), a pilot project sponsored, in part, by the College of Charleston Santee-Cooper Geographic Information Systems Laboratory. It functions as an Internet clearing house to which scholars of the Theban necropolis can retrieve and contribute relevant data related to the cemeteries of ancient Thebes (located on the West Bank of modern Luxor, Egypt).

Until now, no single real-time tool has existed for Egyptologists and scientists to store, retrieve, and manipulate complex data of various types related to the necropolis of private tombs in Western Thebes. However, recent advances in both Internet technology and geographic information systems (GIS) have led to the development of map-driven Web sites for accessing spatial, textual and image databases. The Theban Necropolis Geological Mapping Project freely provides this Web-based GIS-driven archaeological information management tool specifically for the Theban private necropolis. Although the coverage area will ultimately extend from Dra Abu'l Naga on the north to Medinet Habu on the south, at the beginning, the system will concentrate only on the hill of Sheikh Abd el-Qurnah.

This information system acts as both a portal to data and a repository to facilitate the exchange of information among institutions and across disciplines. A map interface based on ultra-high resolution satellite imagery and Survey of Egypt topographical maps connects users with archaeological, cultural, historical, geological, and geographical data.

The data in this information system comes from two sources: contributions by scholars working in the necropolis on their own projects and previously published sources, including (but not limited to):

From these sources, ultimately the following types of data related to the necropolis and the private tombs can be retrieved from the system:

Ultimately, no limit exists to the types of data that can be input or retrieved from the system. Tombs can be searched, identified, and retrieved, and automatically plotted on maps or on highly-detailed satellite photos according to any of the search parameters, e.g.: tomb number, location, names of occupants, relatives or usurpers, titles, time periods, reigning kings, elevations, rock-types and strata, excavators, publication data, etc. Personal names can be searched by transliteration according to the Manuel de Codage or by a wide variety of possible spellings in English. It is even possible to perform sophisticated and complex queries, e.g., intersection and line-of-sight searches (e.g., draw a line anywhere across the necropolis and retrieve all tombs on or near that line according to any of the search parameters).

Conceivably, even individual hieroglyphic texts associated with tombs can be indexed, searched, and retrieved. Admittedly, the sheer volume of information that can be catalogued into this system is immense. Therefore, the project begins with basic archaeo-historical information limited to the hill of Sheikh Abd el-Qurnah and the surrounding plain, including geographical and geological data and such historical information as is contained in the likes of Porter and Moss' Topographical Bibliography, Friederike Kampp's Die Thebanische Nekropole, and other sources published subsequently.

Thus far, over 500 tombs and burials on the hill of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna have been located and plotted on the satellite images, specifically from the Upper Enclosure, the Lower Enclosure, the Qurna Plain, and el-Khokha, and they have been geo-referenced and rectified with topographical maps of the region. These burials include:

Historical and bibliographical data have been entered into the database for all these private tombs except for 84 of them, which are still being processed at this time.

Although the Web site is available to any person for search and retrieval, only recognized scholars and their students contribute to the database of information. Importantly, this topographical information system does not supplant any other existing web sites, map sources, or databases on Western Thebes, but complements them and can direct researchers to them, e.g., The American University in Cairo Theban Mapping Project or Cambridge University Theban Tomb 99 (Senneferi), and the like.

© 2004. All rights reserved.
rev. 4/04