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Website of the Week — Theban Mapping Project


Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations. Our web guide is VOA's Art Chimes.

The latest Indiana Jones film is likely to remind people about the thrill of archaeology. Well, maybe not the adventure, romance and bullwhip-cracking thrill of the Harrison Ford version, but the excitement of discovering the past is still there.

The Middle East has always been a rewarding place for excavating the past. It certainly has been for Dr. Kent Weeks, who has spent decades mapping the burial place of Egypt's Pharaohs at Thebes, the capital of ancient Egypt. In 2000, he and his colleagues published an atlas that mapped out the Valley of the Kings.

WEEKS: "And it struck us at that time that it would be especially useful if, instead of just publishing a hard copy of the atlas, we could also put it up online. And so we established a website that put our atlas up, along with elaborately detailed descriptions of all of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. And, well, as of last count, around 8,500 color photographs of the decorations on their walls."

So now you, too, can travel, virtually, to ancient Egypt at ThebanMappingProject.com.

This is a very feature-rich site, with a tremendous level of detail. You can search for particular architectural features or just browse the high-resolution photos Weeks mentioned. And it's designed for a wide range of visitors.

WEEKS: "In other words, the kind of technical data that an Egyptologist requires is there, but it's presented in a way that makes it fun and exciting for school kids as well. And it's one of the reasons that our website has been adopted as part of the curriculum in about 130 different countries."

For non-specialists, there are short video tours of each of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, designed so that even a teenager can understand them. And Weeks says there's more to come.

WEEKS: "There are village sites, mortuary temples, prehistoric sites, early Christian churches, early mosques, a whole array of archaeological materials. It probably covers more than three, four, 500,000 years of ancient cultures."

Ancient Egypt at the click of a mouse at ThebanMappingProject.com, or get the link to this and more than 200 other Websites of the Week from our site, voanews.com.

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