Scientific Journal Of King Faisal University
Basic and Applied Sciences


Scientific Journal of King Faisal University / Basic and Applied Sciences

A Proposed Mechanism for the Use of Historical Maps to Track and Record Heritage Monuments on Modern Digital Maps Using Informatics Techniques: Medina Case Study

(Abdullah bin Hussein, the judge)


Rapid growth and urbanization of historical old towns lead to decay of heritage monuments or change of their properties and the absence of their sites. Thus, huge spatial information on those monuments that were forgotten or lost gave this research its significance. This paper aims to develop a mechanism to track heritage monuments tagged on historical maps and then record them on modern digital maps using informatics techniques. The mechanism includes a number of detailed stages, steps and tasks. The mechanism starts with collecting descriptive and spatial data on heritage monuments from historical references and maps. Then, it proceeds on building the theoretical bases to deal with the collected data. Then, it continues with tracking and recording the locations and characteristics of heritage monuments on a modern digital GIS map connected with a comprehensive database. The mechanism ends with the data utilization stage that has been designed to make it easier to call, retrieve, analyze and explore the stored data on the monuments to serve educational, cultural, scientific and practical purposes. Medina has been used as a case study to apply the proposed mechanism due to the availability of historical maps of Medina and because heritage monuments of Medina were mostly lost due to the growth and rapid urbanization happened during the past three decades. To apply the proposed mechanism, the researcher has used the GIS Madena Map produced in 2005 as a base map then updated it with the Medina Satellite image dated 2009. The research searched a number of sources within and outside Saudi Arabia to obtaine historical maps of Medina dating back to decades (to the year 1815G). Using GIS techniques, historical maps were scanned and converted to digital maps that were overlaid as separate layers within the modern digital base map and aerial images of the city. It is hoped that the proposed mechanism is generalized and applied to other cities with similar heritage and archaeological sites. To complete the application of the mechanism, three historical monuments were chosen as examples, namely: Al-Ijabah Mosque (an existing monument), Al-Maedah Mosque (a demolished monument whose site was kept vacant), and Budhaah Well (a demolished monument replaced with a hotel). Being connected to the digital map, the mechanism allows building an interactive database designed to contain all descriptive information about the three monuments. Several multimedia techniques were used in the mechanism allowing easy and efficient data retrieval, analysis and exhibiting. It is expected that the results of this study will facilitate identification of heritage monuments that were demolished. It will, also, highlight the historical value of cities and offer a service to many researchers and professionals in various academic and applied domains as archaeologists, planners and geographers, historians and others. Building on the conceptual and the practical application of the mechanism proposed in this study, the researcher is planning to continue a research project aiming at producing a comprehensive informational map of heritage monuments sites of Medina since the Prophet s era. This research demonstrates the importance of applying the proposed mechanism to cities and other archaeological sites in the Kingdom and the world. Key Words: Historical Maps, Heritage Monuments Sites, Preservation of Spatial Information, Geographic Information Systems, Medina, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.