Unit Book J5
General intro

Preface to Unit J5

James L. Walker – May 2010

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J5 in isolation

Unit J5’s digital book is similar to that of other excavation units on the JP terrace which contains the BA temple, in that it describes excavations along the revetment wall which separates and defines the sacral area from other elements of the city of Urkesh. It has two constituents:

a. a regular block of sixteen 5 by 5 squares and,

b. a group of contiguous irregularly shaped polygons which follow and span the revetment wall.

There are several functional unts arrayed in time and space within the unit. Chronologically, the earliest structures excavated so far are a cut stone wall, its stone escarpment, and a pebble pavement extending south and west into unexcavated baulks. (It should be noted that since these structures are at the highest portion of the tell, we expect much earlier structures dated to the fourth millenium and possibly earlier below.) These stone structures were covered by accumulations dated to the Early Dynastic Period. Directly atop these, with no intermediate strata, are accumlations and structures dated to the Mittani Period. Except for scattered Middle Assyrian ceramics, the Mittani material is covered by abandonment accumulations.

Spatially, in all periods the eastern portion functioned as a revetment wall, its glacis and its escarpment through several phases of building and re-building. However, to the west and north, function was time-dependent. At the time of construction the revetment wall and its escarpment were probably associated with structures to the west, yet to be excavated. Later in the EDIII period, accumulations were allowed to cover the escarpment and pavement. During the periods between EDIII and Mittani, the surfaces were kept clean and no build-up occurred. Early in the Mittani period a small stairway was built to access the top of the revetment wall. Later in that period, the entire temple access was shifted from the far southeast to the northwest and a monumental staircase and plaza were built atop the revetment wall.

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J5 within its broader setting

To more fully make sense, depositionally and functionally, of the findings in J5 it is indispensable to see them within the wider contexts of the area and even the site as a whole. Area JP has been excavated more or less continuously since 1999, when a trench to link the previously excavated BA Temple to a new excavation of settlements in Area C2 exposed a monumental complex consisting of a revetment wall, a monumental staircase, and an open plaza. By 2005, the UGR system existed more or less in its final form and exavation units which explored the major elements of the monumental complex recorded their data under current guidelines for the analytical part (accessed from the right hand side vertical bar). The synthetic part (accessed from the left hand side vertial bar) of books from these units are currently in various stages of preparation for publication.

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A work in progress

The book for J5 was initiated in 2008 when western loci of unit J1 which subsumed the revetment wall were spun off and combined with an excavation of new loci to the north and west. These new loci had been identified by geophysical survey as possibly contining additional monumental stonework near the tell surface.

This book for J5 is unique in that the analytic part (right-hand side) has been kept current with the excavation, which is still ongoing. The book therefore serves as a living document whereby it can be used both as a report on what has been found as well as a planning tool for future excavation. (See the cronicle for details).

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The uses of the book

To be able to “read” the J5 digital book, like any other such book, requires a certain familiarity with its structure, although the intent has been to make access to the browser edition as transparent as possible. One will find a detailed explanation of the page layout in the Mozan Sitewide digital book.

Briefly, the section accessed from the left-hand side vertical bar (in red) is discursive and synthetic, and is presented using traditional concepts and terminology. The right-hand side vertical bar (in black) is analytical and it embodies the UGR system proper.

For a synthetic overview of the main results of work in J5 please refer to the overview within the special “Introduction” to this digital book.

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