Using Maps
Using Texts and Images
  • How do I get rid of the nonsense characters when I view a TIMEA text, title, or place name?
    To display characters in languages other than English, TIMEA uses Unicode (UTF-8) in many of the texts, titles, and place names. In some internet browsers, non-Latin characters can appear as nonsense characters instead of the intended word or character. In general, we recommend that you use Firefox, which handles Unicode better than other browsers. To configure Internet Explorer to use Unicode, please see

  • What should I do if I can't access part of the site?
    If you experience a broken link or are not able to access TIMEA resources, please email Include TIMEA in the subject line to make sure the message is not accidentally caught by our spam filter.

  • What types of resources will I find in TIMEA?
    The Travelers in the Middle East Archive contains four primary types of materials: texts, images, maps, and research modules. TIMEA texts include travel narratives, guidebooks, museum catalogs, satires and social commentary. Images are primarily book illustrations, postcards and stereograph views but include souvenirs and memorabilia as well. Maps in TIMEA are both current GIS maps and historical maps from the texts. Research modules help both students and educators uncover more about the materials. The time period covered by TIMEA is the 19th and early 20th centuries; currently the primary geographical focus is Egypt.

  • Where are these materials from?
    All of the works included in TIMEA are public domain. Many come from a significant collection of materials about nineteenth century Egypt held by Dr. Paula Sanders of Rice University's History Department; other sources include Rice University's Fondren Library, the Houston Public Library, and the University of South Florida Library.

  • How do I find items in TIMEA?
    There are several different ways to find items in the Travelers in the Middle East Archive. The TIMEA header contains in the top-right corner a tool that performs a keyword search across the entire archive. When more than one keyword is entered in the box, results are returned that include all the specified keywords. From the TIMEA header click on Advanced Search to limit your search to one or more of the following fields: Title, Subject, Place, Creator, or Any of these fields. You can also limit results based on the type of resource: Image, Text, Map, or Research Module. Advanced Search also allows you to search for resources from particular dates. Enter dates as a year in either a range or an individual year. Use all four digits of the year such as 1890-1900 or 1911.

    Browsing provides another way to explore the archive on a more general level. From the TIMEA header click on Browse to access the different ways to browse the collection, including by place name, subject area, date, author, title, or type of material.

  • How can I improve search results?
    To improve your searches, try these approaches:
    • Rather than limiting your search to a particular field, search across every field by using a basic search
    • Try different keywords, or search just for one word rather than a phrase
    • Check your spelling, or try spelling variations. Many nineteenth century documents use different spellings than we use now--even different words. For instance, the Egyptian place Giza can also be spelled Al-Gizah, Gizeh, Ghizeh, or Geezeh.

  • How can I use TIMEA resources in courses and other educational contexts?
    TIMEA has developed a number of educational modules that explore the research process and provide context for some of our materials. See Using and Creating TIMEA Educational Materials in Connexions.

  • What copyright restrictions apply to these materials?
    TIMEA encourages the use of our collections in research and other publications. The materials are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License. You are welcome to use the materials provided that you recognize TIMEA in the following way: Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA), We are happy to provide a higher resolution image for study or reproduction. Please request it by contacting

  • How do I cite TIMEA as a reference?
    For guidance on formatting citations of TIMEA materials, see Citing TIMEA Resources. Persistent URLs, or handles, are provided for each item so that future scholars are able to discover cited resources.


Using Maps
  • When I click on a place name, I get launched into a map. What's going on?
    TIMEA allows you to go to particular places on an interactive modern map of Egypt through its GIS interface. Clicking on a place name in search results or through browsing by GIS Map will open up a separate window. The name of the place will be highlighted on the map, along with a red dot indicating the exact location of the site. The map interface uses frames, which means that the back button will not work; select "history" in your browser's menu to return to the previous page.

    You can also use the GIS map to find resources associated with a particular place. Select the identify tool (an "i" in a black circle) and click on the site on the map that you want to learn more about. A list of place names associated with that point will appear, along with the latitude/longitude. By clicking on the place name link, you will retrieve a list of all resources in TIMEA associated with that place. Please note that there are many variations of place names, and TIMEA presents all of the ones that are made available through the GEOnet Names Server.

    In addition to the ArcIMS map that was developed in-house, TIMEA also has created three Google Maps that provide a less powerful but potentially more intuitive interface: an overview map of Egypt that provides links to resources in TIMEA associated with major sites, as well as maps of the itineraries for the Nile cruise in 1847 and 1897.

  • How do I use the dynamic GIS map?
    Modern maps of Egypt and Cyprus are displayed using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. This interface allows users to view information such as satellite imagery, elevation, and drainage. The technology used for viewing the GIS maps requires that your web browser have javascript enabled. In addition, the GIS maps are optimized for monitors that are set at 1024 x 768 pixels. For more on using the GIS interface, please see TIMEA GIS Map Interface . For more on using GIS in the humanities, visit Placing History: Introducing geographic information systems in the context of current humanities research.


Using Texts and Images
  • How do I get more information about a specific item? What do the different information (metadata) fields mean?
    To capture information about the original artifact, book, postcard, souvenir, etc., we record metadata (information about information) about it. For detailed information about what metadata was captured and how to interpret the metadata fields, please see How to Read a TIMEA Metadata Record.

  • How do I find specific words in a text?
    Both TIMEA's basic and advanced search will search the full text of all materials in the collection, such as XML-encoded historical texts and research modules. Once you find a relevant work, click on the link to open the file. To find words within a text, use the Find feature in your web browser. Access this feature by clicking Edit at the top of the browser and selecting Find from the menu. Or, click control-F or Apple-F to open a search box.

  • Why are some of the images dark and curved? What are "enhanced" images?
    As we explain in A Brief History of Stereographs and Stereoscopes, many of the original stereographs presented in TIMEA are curved and dark; manufacturers believed that using a slight curvature on the stereographs would enhance the three-dimensional effect. We want to present these objects as they are, but we also would like them to be legible. Thus for selected objects we are presenting both the original object and an enhanced version. For the enhanced versions, we used Photoshop to increase brightness and contrast and Altostorm Rectilinear Panorama to straighten the object.

  • How were the digital versions of the TIMEA resources created?
    All images were scanned at 600 dpi, 24 bit color, while texts were scanned at 400 dpi, 24 bit color. All texts are encoded in TEI-Light, an XML-based mark-up standard for humanities texts. For more information, please see Project Standards and Technical Approaches.

  • How can I get a high-quality version of an image?
    We are happy to provide a higher resolution image for study or reproduction. Please request it by contacting

  • How do I view images of stereographs in three dimensions?
    TIMEA contains several dozen stereographs, dual photographs that appear in three dimensions (3D) when viewed with a stereoscope or similar device. To view these images in 3D, you can use an inexpensive modern stereo viewer. See Strategies and Resources for Studying Stereographs.