Syrian GIS

The first Finnish archaeological project in Syria was started in cooperation with the Syrian Antiquities Department in summer 2000. Following in the footsteps of Father A. Poidebard in the Syrian desert, the Finnish project uses modern remote-sensing methods in prospecting, mapping and surveying the largely unexplored mountainous region of Jebel Bishri in central Syria.

The Finns have been developing the Egyptian Antiquities Information System (EAIS) based on the Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The pilot project is currently taking place to protect the antiquities of Egypt using development funds from the Finnish Foreign Ministry. The Syrian GIS by the Finns, although on a smaller scale, is aimed as an initiative project in the same direction.

The purpose in Syria has been to acquire and produce digital data for recording, documenting and GIS-mapping archaeological sites as well as present-day nomadic compounds. The chief source material consists of satellite images based on which the prospecting and initial mapping have been made. The elevation model of the mountain has been constructed from the data acquired from the Landsat-7 ETM data and the NASA Space Shuttle X-SAR mission 2000.

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey on higher plateaus of Jebel Bishri in 2004. Photo: Elena Garcia Guizé © SYGIS – Jebel Bishri, the Finnish Project in Syria

© SYGIS – Jebel Bishri, the Finnish Project in Syria

The remote-sensing is followed by field work with the aid of GPS, tachymeter (EDM), altimeter and digital images. By these means digital material is collected for the purpose of archaeological mapping and analysis.

Videoclip: Field work on Tar al-Sbai © SYGIS and Ghadi Boustani