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Egyptologists launch online encyclopedia

Frustrated with the poor quality of many Web sites dealing with ancient Egypt, a professor at the University of California has decided to create a massive online encyclopedia devoted solely to Egyptology.
/ Source: Reuters

Frustrated with the poor quality of many Web sites dealing with ancient Egypt, a professor at the University of California has decided to create a massive online encyclopedia devoted solely to Egyptology.

Willemina Wendrich, a professor of Egyptian archeology, had watched in dismay as the best resource for her subject, a seven-volume encyclopedia in German got more and more out of date because of the prohibitive cost of updating it.

Meanwhile, her students at the University of California Los Angeles were doing research for papers on the Internet, and being led astray. "The Web has a lot of wonderful information and a lot of horrible information," she told Reuters in a telephone interview on Thursday.

The UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, which will go online in 2008, will be peer-reviewed and will update constantly when there are new discoveries, said Wendrich.

One version, in PDF, will be available for free to anyone using the Web while a second version, with a better search function and more graphics, will be available by subscription.

"I'm doing this because I think it's necessary," she said.

People accessing the web from Egypt, however, will be able to use both versions for free, she said. And she hopes to have much of the site translated into Arabic.

"I think it's really important that people realize that all this material that we're working with is from Egypt, and people in Egypt speak Arabic. I'm actually surprised that it hasn't happened earlier," she said.