Urkesh Ceramic Analysis
Categorization: The system

Roster and Lexicon

Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati – August 2023

The concepts of roster and lexicon are fundamental to the whole UGR approach, and are described within the Grammar.

In the Ceramics book a special roster and lexicon has been developed to describe all the ceramic data from the Urkesh excavations. The overall system is based on the idea that each individual sherd can be identified, and then subsequently categorized according to the various characteristics as defined in the roster.

The rosters are paradigms of variables or categories. The roster determines what characteristics can be recorded systematically. It is a closed, -emic, system: this has meant that any addition or change had to be made with a view to its impact on the structure of the roster as a whole.

The lexicon is the complete list of potential entries for any one roster category. The Lexicon then contains codes and a detailed description of all the variants that are applicable for any given variable, as identified in the Urkesh excavations. It is an open (-etic) system. These then are the codes that are used for the ceramic analysis and found in the analysis records.

Within the overall frame of the roster and lexicon, each sherd is individually analyzed as per the codes of the roster and the lexicon. Body sherds can only be analyzed from the point of view of the ware and sometimes the decoration, but this last feature is found only seldom. The lexicon is flexible in that it allows the addition of new codes in cases of new discoveries.

The intersection of the two dimensions, the roster (variables) and lexicon (variants) allows our attribute analysis to be broken down into discrete and verifiable units that can be explicitly compared.

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