In May of 2012, a major revision of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands was announced on this blog.
It was a significant moment in the life of BiblePlaces.com, and the culmination of years of work. The number of volumes increased from 10 to 18, and the number of total photographs increased from 5,854 to 17,683. Apart from these statistics, however, many other improvements were made and some brand-new features were added, all of which make the collection more user-friendly.
The Site Index is a pdf document which provides (1) the primary name for each site that is used in the image filenames, (2) the volume and region where the site is located in the Pictorial Library, (3) a list of alternate names and spellings for the site, and (4) latitude and longitude coordinates for the site.
The importance and usefulness of this new feature can best be illustrated with some examples.
Perhaps you are teaching or studying Acts 21, and you need some photographs of Ptolemais (Acts 21:7), but you do not find any images with Ptolemais in the filename. With the Site Index you can quickly find Ptolemais, and see that it is found on Volume 1: “Galilee and the North”, in the folder/PowerPoint “Plain of Asher.” The Old Testament name of the city is Acco, and that is the name used for all of the image filenames. You will also see other historical names for the site such as Tell el-Fukhkhar and Acre, which might become important for doing further research. (In a future post about Google’s free program Picasa, we will mention another very easy way to find sites by other names, such as Ptolemais.)
Another example concerns placenames which are shared by more than one site. For example, the Pictorial Library contains photographs of two sites in Israel named Achzib, one located on the Plain of Asher and the other in the Judean Shephelah (foothills).
Similarly, there are two sites in the Pictorial Library named Apollonia, one in Greece (Acts 17:1) and the other in Israel. The Site Index can help the user sort out these kinds of things, and make sure you are looking at the right site.