December 13, 2016

The Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes (CAMEL Lab) at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago would like to announce that a substantial subset of its digital holdings of maps and geospatial data are now available for online public search and download.

Thanks to the funding of a 2014-2016 IMLS grant, geo-referenced versions of historical and modern maps and satellite imagery have been included in the Oriental Institute’s ever-expanding Integrated Database, available on the Search Our Collections webpage. To access maps and geospatial data specifically, choose “CAMEL” from the first drop-down list.

The Integrated Database does not yet include a spatial search function or map interface. For tips on how to use text-based queries to locate specific datasets, see the Oriental Institute Collections Search Wiki. Once you have located a georeferenced dataset of interest, an interactive map with up-to-date satellite imagery embedded in the dataset’s page will allow you to see the spatial coverage of the dataset.

CAMEL (https://oi.uchicago.edu/camel) is a research laboratory at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago that is dedicated to the long-durée study of Middle Eastern landscapes, environments and cultural heritage, primarily through archaeological fieldwork, satellite imagery analysis, and spatial analysis within Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

CAMEL’s database includes over 20,000 unique objects of spatial data that relate to the archaeology, anthropology, and history of the Middle East, almost 9000 of which are now publicly available. The main strengths of our collection are:

  • Digitized and georeferenced versions of historical maps held by the Oriental Institute
  • Historical aerial photographs of particular archaeological sites and landscapes
  • Georeferenced historical satellite imagery covering large swaths of the Middle East, primarily from the Cold War-era Corona spy satellite program

For questions and comments, please contact the CAMEL director, Emily Hammer or Foy Scalf, Head of the Integrated Database Project.