Frequently Asked Questions



What does CAMEL stand for?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a camel is “A large hornless ruminant quadruped, distinguished by its humped back, long neck, and cushioned feet.” In this case, however, CAMEL stands for the Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes, which is both a conceptual and institutional entity. CAMEL was born in a small laboratory in the basement of the Oriental Institute in 1998 under the direction of Tony Wilkinson. By 2004 it had outgrown this space and was moved to a larger area within the William M. Sumner Computer Laboratory in room 202 of the Oriental Institute.

What does CAMEL do?

Please see our mission statement here.

How does CAMEL obtain its imagery?

The Oriental Institute itself houses thousands of unique aerial photography of the Middle East taken during the early- to mid-19th century, including a series taken by its founder, James Henry Breasted. The OI archives also holds a substantial collection of survey and thematic maps published over the last two centuries. Through coordination with other archaeological projects and its own purchases, CAMEL has amassed a series of “Corona” declassified spy-satellite imagery taken in the 60s and 70s. Drawing on other online remote sensing databases such as the GLCF and USGS’ Earth Explorer, we have amassed a considerable series of over 20,000 images amounting to about seven terabytes in storage space.

Can I download imagery from the CAMEL website?

At this time, requests are fulfilled by hand for approved projects and individuals. In future releases of this website, we plan to display our holdings of various types of remote sensing imagery and other spatial data. Down the road, we will have an interactive GIS ordering system for customers to specify an area of interest and download certain types of spatial data.

May I use CAMEL imagery for publication?

We require that all spatial data obtained from CAMEL be cited as such in print.
Several types of data, such as declassified “Corona” imagery and Landsat imagery, require citation to the data providers and intermediaries like the USGS and the GLCF. Other types of imagery are for academic use only, and publication rights must be obtained from the publisher. Essentially, citation and usage rights vary by the individual spatial dataset. If you do use CAMEL data in a publication, please share the citation for your publication with us. We like to stay informed about what applications our spatial archive is designed for.

Why is the door to the Computer Laboratory now locked?

The reason for the switch to a key-access-only laboratory is in a word, security. With a growing amount of hardware, much of it fairly easy to carry off, the lock provides a layer of security to prevent people from walking off with the laboratory. It also allows us to maintain better control over the activities of people who might walk in off the street. That said we are making every effort to staff the laboratory with hired students between its official operational hours of 9am and 5pm to provide access to those working during those hours and so to minimize the number of keys we need to hand out.

How can I arrange to work with CAMEL, and can I get a key for the Computer Laboratory?

The process is described here.

How does CAMEL benefit the Oriental Institute?

CAMEL provides researchers ready access to expertise and new technology for acquiring spatial data and to a growing body of spatial data about both the modern and ancient Near East. Its collections in many areas are unparalleled elsewhere in the world. By functioning as a central repository for this data, CAMEL can reduce purchasing costs, speed up access to the data, and allow researchers to relatively easily expand their research horizons beyond their area of interest. The broad scope of detailed data across the entire Near East offers researchers the ability to grapple with larger regional issues in a manner that has never been previously possible. Please see our mission statement for a further description.

What hardware and software is available through CAMEL?

The CAMEL laboratory consists of 9 Windows computers all equipped with DVD-RW drives. Software available on the machines includes ArcGIS, ERDAS Imagine, SPSS, Microsoft Office, and Adobe Creative Suite. Six scanners are available for use interchangeably on any of these machines, including three high resolution Epson and Canon photo scanners. CAMEL also houses a large format (42”) sheet-feed scanner and plotter for professional printing and scanning of large maps and posters. The CAMEL laboratory participates in the Oriental Institute’s Terabyte storage system for all its storage needs.

How can I get copies of the software used in the CAMEL Laboratory to use in my office or away from campus?

You can contact Carla Hosein, Scott Branting, Joshua Trampier, or John Sanders to find out what software is available and what the yearly costs for installing it are. Additional licenses through site licensing agreements are currently available to those affiliated with the Oriental Institute for ArcGIS, ERDAS Imagine and for the Adobe Creative Suite. The only caveat on all of the software, to save the Oriental Institute from legal troubles, is that it can only be installed on a university-owned machine.

All I want to do is scan something, can I do this in the Computer Laboratory?

We will accommodate as many short-term, spur-of-the-moment requests from Oriental Institute affiliated faculty and staff, as is feasible within the limitations of scheduling. But there are no guarantees you will be able to use it at a moment’s notice.

Can I drop off things to be scanned in the Computer Laboratory?

No. The staff of the laboratory is there to answer basic questions about the laboratory and facilitate its use by explaining procedures for scanning slides or maps, and so forth. They will also have duties they need to perform in maintaining the machines or processing new data for the laboratory, to the benefit of all. They are not there to do your project work for you.

I need to write a paper for a class. Can I do that in the Computer Laboratory?

No. Due to the limited number of computers in the Laboratory it is restricted for research only. If you need to use word-processing software, there are a number of computer laboratories available around campus for that purpose.

I need to check my email. Can I do that in the Computer Laboratory?

No. Due to the limited number of computers in the Laboratory, it is restricted for research only. If you need to check your email, there are a number of computer laboratories available around campus that can accommodate you. There are also computers set up in the research archives for this purpose.