A Jewish group is mapping the ancient cemetery on the Mount of Olives, a sprawling hill of 150,000 graves stretching back three millennia. Elad is nearly finished documenting the tombstones of the Jewish portion and plans to make the information available online.
The team began work in 2008, photographing every grave, mapping it digitally, and recording every name. They have completed 40,000 graves already, and plan to finish the remaining 60,000 intact gravestones by the end of next year. The rest of the tombstones are so old as to be unrecognizable, or lie beneath more recent layers of burial.
"This place has been used for burial since there have been signs of life in Jerusalem," Moti Shamis, a member of the mapping team, said to AP. "The cemetery is a mirror of the city—in wartime, we see more graves. When new groups of Jews reach the city, the names on the graves change."
As with most Jerusalem endeavors, politics harries the project. Elad is affiliated with the settlement movement, which endeavors to prevent the division of Jerusalem through moving Jews into strategic neighborhoods.