MZ Sitewide

Study collection

Giorgio Buccellati – November 2007

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There are two major types of collections – for display and for study. A general introduction to both is given in the Presentation portion of the website. The display collections are also treated there, because of their more general interest.

The important objects (more than 3,000 in number as of 2009) have been taken to the Museum of Der ez-Zor, from where they will be transferred in the near future to the new regional Museum of Hassaka.

The display collections are very selective, while the study collections contain the remainder of all objects without museographic value, as well as sherds, samples and specimens. They constitute an important dimension of the overall documentation program of the Urkesh Global Record.

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Types of study collection

The basic collection is fully organized for scholarly consultation and use, when the Expedition is in session. The others are still in the process of organization. Each is described at the link given below.

  1. ZSB: the basic study collection
  2. ZSP: the ceramics library
  3. ZSC: the conservation collection
  4. ZSS: special objects
  5. ZSZ: zoological specimens
  6. ZSF: botanical specimens

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Curators are in charge of the various collections. They oversee the organization of the materials, they maintain the catalog, when in residence they host visiting scholars and they help the directors in developing a full publication program of the data by encouraging the participation of contributing scholars.

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Storage facilities

Special facilities are avaiable for the basic collections and the ceramics library.

An obviously important precondition is the construction of adequate storage space. In the order of priorities, storage space was the last built as part of the Expedition House project. As of 2007, our building plan was completed, and we now have fully functionng facilities. The two major collections (ZSB and ZSP)are housed respectively in a very large storeroom (6 x 40 m) and in a 5 x 15 hall. The objects used for display are in a medium size room. The other collections are housed in the pertinent laboratories.

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The catalog is the essential instrument for the utilization of the collections. At present, only the basic collection has a complete catalog, with more than 12,000 items.

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Missing items

A number of items (in particular large stone objects as well as samples) remain to be catalogued.

Some of these items were discarded when, upon review in the labs, they proved to have no definable typological identity. Unfortunately, in the early years this event was not recorded.

Also, during the process of building the storage facilities, and on account of the need to pack and move several times, some of the items may have been lost. It must be stressed that these are all items of no particular typological significance.

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Discarded items

Some of the items that have been collected in the field and recorded, turn out not to be objects (e.g., presumed sealings that are in fact but clay lumps). These are discarded.

We also discard all non-diagnostic body sherds that have been analyzed: they are piled up along the slope to the northeast of the house, and covered with dirt and gravel, resulting in a wide open space by the entrance to the house.

We further discard all animal bones and samples that have been analyzed.

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Human remains are taken to the physical anthropology lab for analysis. Modern burials that are not claimed by their families are also analyzed. After analysis, all human remains are reburied in wooden coffins placed in the Mozan burial ground which we have established below the northwest slope of the High Mound.

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