By: Kim Maeyama
Hello, Hello! Welcome to the first official edition of the
Tel el-Far'ah Newsletter! It is my hope that this newsletter
will serve as a connection between all personnel participating
in this summer's excavation and those who, fortunately or
unfortunately depending upon how you look at it, are not!
To briefly introduce myself, my name is Kim Maeyama and I'm
sure that many of you will become more than familiar with
me during the next few months. I will perform the duties of
Assistant Field Director at this summer's excavation and am
the Project Director for the Information Systems (IS) Project
at Tel el-Far'ah. But that is enough about me.
Since this is the first official edition of the newsletter,
I've taken it upon myself to write a few submissions and so
most of the following articles and tid-bits will probably
cause you readers to unexpectedly enter into the dark world
of slumber. Just don't start to drool, computers don't like
that much. So, want to hear more about this newsletter? This
newsletter will consist of periodic submissions by selected
volunteer representatives, accompanied by some other fun and
informative bits of information. The "Phone Booth" is the
place where all volunteers will be given the opportunity to
"post" a short message, whether it be about how
hard they're working or how amazingly chipper Dr. Schneider
is at 4 am. Our "Staffer Spotlight" section will highlight
one of the many different individuals archaeology brings together
in an effort to shed light on the mysteries of the past.
Lastly, but by no means least will be "Turreah's Tid-bits,"
hosted by Turreah our own personal "tel-times" reporter. Hopefully,
Turreah will find the time during her busy dig schedule to
circulate throughout the tel, taking photographs of excavators
and using her journalistic skills to report the every-day
stories and up-to-date entertainment news a lá Tel el-Far'ah.
So, again WELCOME to your summer adventure at Tel el-Far'ah!
I hope this newsletter will share our adventure with all who
could not be with us this summer, as well as enhance the memories
of those who were. If you have any comments, suggestions or
questions, you are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schneider, Sam Craig & Will Kreiger playing with
all the techie toys.
By: Kim Maeyama
As you prepare to
depart for Far'ah this summer, some of you may be leaving
the states for the very first time. Even if you are a
seasoned international traveller, there are some common
sense tips that should be remembered, especially when
your final destination is the Middle East.
As you set foot on the tar-mat at Tel Aviv Int. airport,
you should have handy some key information that might
expedite your passport processing time. You should be
prepared to tell the officer why you are here (to participate
at the excavations of Tel el-Far'ah(S)), where exactly
you will be staying (Kibbutz Givulot, southeast of Gaza),
and the name of both universities sponsoring the excavation
(Claremont Graduate & Ben-Gurion University). This
is pretty much the standard, though other questions maybe
asked and should that happen, just answer honestly and
Just prior to landing, airline stewards will pass around
a VISA document to be filled out. This document has three
copies to be given to the passport officer. (S)He will
return to you one copy and you must take care not to lose
it for you will be asked to present it again upon departure
from the country.
TRAVELLER's TIP: Never joke
around with airport security! They will take you seriously.
By: Kim Maeyama
In this the age of computers, just about every branch of commercial
business and academia has taken to utilize some, if not all,
aspects of an Information System (IS). This is also true for
the 1999 excavations at Tel el-Far'ah, Israel. How might we
define an "Information System"? This article will attempt
to answer both the broader aspects of IS development and implementation
and how we've designed and constructed a customized IS for
the purpose of supporting our summer excavation.
Generally speaking, the definition of an IS is any developed
system utilizing modern computer technology (hardware/software)
to facilitate the management and analysis of data and the
data acquisition process. This involves databases, local area
networks (LANs), and technologically enhanced methods of data
acquisition and management, just to name a few. This article
will discuss the objectives of our IS, then address the hardware/software
components and finally our plan of action or implementation.
Objectives: Simply stated, there are two primary objectives
we hope to achieve via the implementation of our IS plan.
Our first objective is to provide a "real-time", efficient
and user-friendly system that allows Field and Excavation
Directors to compile, store and analyze data generated by
the excavation process. Since archaeology generates two general
types of data, namely "tabular" and "graphic", careful consideration
was needed in developing such a system. Our second objective
simply expands the above stated objective beyond excavation
staff, making the data available via all possible mediums
(e.g. internet, digital and if truly necessary, hardcopy)
to other scholars or any other interested individual.
Components: (Hardware) We initially intended the use of one
to two portable laptop personal computers (LPCs), a scanner,
a digital camera, printer, 2 IOmega Zip Drives as backup devices
and of course, one human operator. These basic hardware components
soon doubled to a final list of 5+ LPCs, multiple digital
cameras, a Palm Top computer and a Digital Notepad for field
data acquisition, a local area network (LAN), re-writeable
CD-Rom, plus the basic components already mentioned above.
(Software) Since we wanted to make the data available to other
individuals who have no direct connection to the excavation
and because of the often extensive and long-term financial
obligation of a customized "from-scratch" system, we decided
to make use of pre-existing "popular" software. With this
in mind the software we selected includes Microsoft Office
(particularly MS Access as our Database Management System),
MapInfo for Professional Geographic Information System (GIS)
and various other web-design/graphic softwares.
Implementation: Our plan can be summarized as follows: To
develop a user-friendly, fully integrated IS for use by excavation
staff to systematically acquire, store and analyze both tabular
and graphic data types during excavation. To do so we custom
generated paper forms displaying criteria (tabular data) that
became the basis for the conceptualization, design and construction
of an MS Access database. To handle the "graphic" data, we
set to scan and digitize daily top plans, locus plans, etc.
permitting us to construct a digital "tel" according to areas
of excavation. By using the GIS software (digital cartographic/
spatial analysis software) we could bring both the tabular
and graphic data together, offering excavation staff a visual
perspective of the excavation and how it is developing on
a daily basis. The final component of our IS is the web-site
you are now browsing.
The physical implementation of this plan has two stages, pre-excavation
and during/post excavation. The Pre-excavation implementation
dealt primarily with the design and development processes
involved in database construction as well as the development
and construction of this web-site. The during/post excavation
stage will actively couple the database and GIS system with
the excavation process, meaning that on a daily basis, all
data gathered in the field will then be transferred into the
database for later analysis and report generation. Actual
initiation of this system will occur with the beginning of
excavation at Tel el-Far'ah on the 12th of July 1999. The
benefits that such a system will bring cannot be counted,
though we are very confident that they will become evident
by the termination of this year's excavation season.