The Leon Levy Expedition at Ashkelon utilizes an Archaeological Data Base Management System (DBMS) that runs on personal computers, requires no previous knowledge of computers and takes less than an hour to learn. Though written specifically for this dig, the DBMS is applicable to other excavations as well.
There are over 50,000 entries in the system’s ten databases: Feature Sheets (with information on architectural features), Layer Sheets (composition of each stratum), Pottery Readings (number of sherds by bucket, their chronological date, etc.), Material Culture (small finds by location), Photography Index (list of photographed items), Registered Pottery (noteworthy pottery), Conservation Documentation (which techniques were used to preserve specific items) and three administrative databases. Entries are processed by over 100 programs “behind the scenes,” producing a total of 43 different printed reports. The system allows the user to define narrowly the criteria for reporting with a minimum of effort. For example, just by filling in four blanks, one can generate a report of all Egyptian scarabs made of stone from Grid 50 for which photographs are available. The computer can also search the various databases to calculate the frequency of an item in question, such as a tally of pottery by chronological period in Grid 50, square 7, layers 7 through 9.
Entry of new data into the system takes place year round at the site, in the lab in Jerusalem and at Harvard University.
The Archaeological DBMS was developed by Dr. Richard J. Saley for the Ashkelon expedition. It is available on a no-charge, sharing basis to other excavations. For additional information contact: Dr. Richard J. Saley, Harvard Semitic Museum, 6 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138; (617) 495–4239; BITNET: SALEY@HARVARDA.