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20 November 2011
Israelis mapping Mount of Olives necropolis

A Jewish group in Jerusalem is using 21st-century technology to map every tombstone in the ancient cemetery on the Mount of Olives, a sprawling necropolis of 150,000 graves stretching back three millennia. It is among the oldest cemeteries in continuous use in the world.
     Jews began burying their dead on the hill that later became known as the Mount of Olives about three millennia ago. The goal of the new mapping project is to photograph every grave, map it digitally, record every name, and make the information available online. The project is mapping only the Jewish cemetery, which includes several burial monuments from the time of the second Jewish Temple, about 2,000 years ago.
     Around 40,000 graves have been mapped so far by the team, which began work in 2008. They expect to finish recording all of the intact gravestones - an estimated 100,000 in total - by the end of next year. The rest are either unrecognisable or lie beneath later burials.
     Mappers look at aerial photographs, consult handwritten burial records, walk along the rows of graves and dig through piles of dislocated tombstones.

Edited from Associated Press, Fox News (17 November 2011)

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