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 k.maeyama@skynet.be.

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Dr. Schneider, Sam Craig & Will Kreiger playing with all the techie toys.
Travel Tips
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 openly.

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.
Tel el-Far'ah South

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.

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