Search the Database: Theban Tombs Satellite Mapping Project

A preliminary version of the On-line Geographical Information
System of the Theban Necropolis
database is now available!

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The GIS database is currently morphing into a form that researchers and the public can begin to use. It operates under the latest version of ArcView GIS® and its public interface, ArcIMS®. It is a work in progress and always under revision. It is possible to do both simple and complex searches of tombs in the necropolis. In the near future it will contain two inter-linked databases of the tombs. The first contains geographical data and information pertinent to survey and mapping, including location and identification. The second inter-linked database contains the full Egyptological and historical data on each tomb. However, at the moment, for the more than 700 tombs that were mapped by differential GPS survey on the ground in 2005-2006, only the geographical database is accessible, but the historical database is not yet functional. On the other hand, for the more than 400 tombs that were visually mapped on the satellite map in 2004 (also included in the '05-'06 ground survey), the historical database is accessible.

Each transparent database, with its tomb locations, is its own layer superimposed on the satellite basemaps in the GIS. To access them, one must first make them visible (by checking the appropriate boxes). Any number of boxes may be checked at once to reveal the tombs and features simultaneously on the map. The first group of layers contains the tomb data. The second group contains rudimentary geological features (faults, rock strata, etc.). The third group contains geographical/cultural features (roads, temple and tomb footprints, topographical maps, etc.). These three layers are transparent and can be viewed simultaneously. The last four layers in the list are the satellite photomaps, four maps representing two sets. The sets date to 2005 and 2002, respectively. Each set contains two maps: a panchromatic (black and white of ultra-high resolution (52 cm.), and a multispectral (color) of high resolution (160 cm.). However, the photomaps are not transparent, and only one photo may be checked at a time to view it. To search or manipulate a layer one must be sure it is visible (box checked), then "activate" it by pressing the adjoining radio button. Only one layer may be activated at a time.

Please take note: the map sets of 2005 and 2002 are not compatible with each other due to discrepancies of up to 20 meters in the satellite imagery of 2002. Therefore, the 2006 collection of tombs can only be properly projected on to the 2005 photomaps, while the 2004 tombs on to the 2002 maps only. Also, the locations of the tombs of 2006 are not differentially corrected here. Thus, some might be off their exact locations on the ground by up to 9 meters. Many are dead on; most are up to 4 meters off. A layer of corrected locations for the 2006 tombs will be available shortly.

This GIS database has been created with and operates in the very powerful ArcGIS® system of software produced by ESRI®, including ArcGIS®, and ArcMap®. While ArcIMS® is a useful program, it does require experimentation to master. However, its Web Interface is obviously limited and a bit clunky to use. It also has less functionality than its more powerful siblings. Therefore, we can offer to grant fuller access to the OLGIS-TN database to any scholars or their students who happen to run ArcGIS® or ArcMap® on their own networked computers and who are doing serious research in the archaeology and history of Western Thebes. They should contact us directly. We will send them instructions and the appropriate Web addresses for adding our ArcIMS® server through the "Add Data"-command of ArcMap® on their computers. In this manner, they can use their own version of ArcGIS® and ArcMap® to navigate more fully through this database and to execute much more powerful queries and selections than ArcIMS® affords. Coming soon: to make it even easier to access a fuller potential of this database without the need to own the expensive and complicated ArcGIS® software, soon anyone could dowload from the ESRI website a copy of ArcGIS Explorer® on to their computers, and with it, they could use OLGIS-TN to build their own maps of the Theban necropolis customized to their own research interests and needs. Thank you for your interest and your patience.

© 2009. All rights reserved.
rev. 4/17/09