The archaeological archive of Israel, which is administered by the Israel Antiquities Authority and amasses data on all of the activity of the archeological entities in the country, is being computerized and will go online in the coming days. This is being underwritten with joint funding provided by the Landmarks heritage program in the Prime Minister's Office and the Israel Antiquities Authority. The scientific archive has its beginnings in the British Mandatory Department of Antiquities. It was continued by the Israel Department of Antiquities and is managed today by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which invests considerable thought and resources in its operation.
The first stage, containing tens of thousands of documents, photographs, maps and plans from the years 1919-1948 from Akko and Jerusalem, is already available for viewing online. Most of this material was written in English.
Uploading the old and valuable material to the website required special preparations. In order to scan the material, the Israel Antiquities Authority engaged the services of ImageStore Systems Ltd. This is because the archival material is especially delicate and sensitive and cannot be scanned with industrial equipment; rather it can only be done individually and manually. The documents in the archive include texts photographs, maps, and plans etc. on many different kinds of paper.
According to Israel Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hausner and Reuven Pinsky, director of the heritage project in the Prime Minister's Office: "The Mandatory archive constitutes the principal foundation of archaeological research of the past one hundred years. This program, as part of the Israel Archives Network project for scanning and digitalization of the material on file in the archives, will make it possible for the public in general and particularly scholars in Israel and abroad to access these resources of knowledge."
According to Dr. Uzi Dahari, Deputy Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "The scientific importance of the archive is invaluable, and it is the only one of its kind in Israel and in the world. In Israel there are approximately 30,000 known and declared antiquities sites that constitute our cultural heritage - the largest and most important asset of the State of Israel. The Israel Antiquities Authority declares, treats, surveys, and researches the antiquities sites in the country. One of the many activities of the Israel Antiquities Authority is the management and running of the scientific archive. The Israel Antiquities Authority decided to transfer the archive to the digitalized media, in order to disseminate the information throughout the world. To this end, all of the information was scanned and it was indexed according to rules that are suitable for research needs."