Project Background

Arches has been developed by the Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund, after several years of work to create the Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities (MEGA).


MEGA-Jordan and MEGA-Iraq

In June 2010, the GCI and WMF completed development of MEGA-Jordan, a web-based, bilingual (Arabic-English) geospatial information system built with open source tools. MEGA-Jordan is designed to serve as an archaeological site inventory and management system for the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, who deployed the system nationwide in December 2010. The Department of Antiquities has allowed public access to the system for viewing and searching purposes at

Watch an overview video demonstrating the use of MEGA-Jordan. More tutorial videos are available at

In April 2011, GCI and WMF made available a prototype of MEGA-Iraq for inventory and management of archaeological sites to the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH). GCI and WMF had planned to expand the capabilities of MEGA-Iraq to document other types of immovable heritage. This project has been delayed due to administrative changes in Iraq.


Arches Project

During the development of the MEGA system, the GCI and WMF received many inquiries from heritage organizations around the world interested in using MEGA. This interest led the GCI and WMF to the decision to develop for the international heritage field a user-friendly, low-cost, web-based geospatial information system designed to help inventory and manage all types of immovable heritage, including archaeological sites, buildings, structures, landscapes, and heritage ensembles or districts. In June 2011, the GCI and WMF began to develop Arches as an open source project.

The GCI and WMF undertook extensive research on best practices and standards relevant to the development of a system of this type. The partners took part in fact-finding meetings with several heritage authorities in the United States and Europe. These include the National Park Service’s CRGIS Facility and Golden Gate National Recreation Area (United States), English Heritage’s National Monuments Record and Essex County Council (UK), Inventaire général du patrimoine culturel, the Rhône-Alpes Region, and the City of Lyon (France), and the Flanders Heritage Agency (Onroerend Erfgoed) and Monuments Watch Flanders (Monumentenwacht Vlaanderen) (Belgium). In June 2012, the GCI and WMF held a peer review meeting, including representatives from English Heritage, the Flanders Heritage Agency, the U.S. National Park Service, the California Office of Historic Preservation, and the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources. The contributions of heritage institutions, particularly English Heritage, the Flanders Heritage Agency, and the City of Los Angeles, have played a critical role during system development and testing.

Farallon Geographics, as consultant to the GCI and WMF, are developing the initial version of Arches, and developed MEGA-Jordan and MEGA-Iraq. Open Tech Strategies have provided consulting services for open source software development.


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