Urkesh Ceramic Analysis

Introduction: The book

Relationship to the Urkesh Global Record (UGR)

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The Urkesh Global Record (UGR)

The UGR is the section of the Urkesh website where the full record of the excavations is presented. As such the UGR encompasses the context of all excavation units meaning that in every unit book the original stratigraphic context is shown with the complete description of that context and an inventory and description of the elements found within the context. So in the individual unit books in the UGR we have a linkage between context and typology.

In the case of ceramics, every piece, whether whole vessel or sherd, found in every context has a detailed documentary record of its context and is also linked to all the other individual vessels or sherds from that context. In addition, the ceramics found in any excavation unit are described in detail in the pretinent unit book according to their typology: this is given in the form of verbal and metric descriptions, photographs and drawings.

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There emerges therefore a close “interplanar” interaction among these different parts. Thus the shape types refer back to the typology for all the chronological periods in the Ceramics book. On the one hand, the unit books present the data at their origin, and they rely on the criteria and the comparative material presented in the ceramics digital book. On the other, the ceramics book draws on these data in its effort at establishing a universal framework within which the singularity of each individual piece fits. Significantly then the user can go from the highest node, the context, to the lowest node, a sherd, and back to the highest node of the typology, with additional connections with other UGR books.

The digitality of the unit books within the UGR means that this interaction is dynamic: any given reference is not only virtual (as with a footnote in a book) but actual, through the hyperlinks that connect all these various planes with each other. And indeed the link leads not just to a detail, but to the whole plane, where the planes are conceived in function of each other. Thus the typological plane of the Ceramics book depends on the stratigraphic data from the unit books and is written with them as a starting point, but at the same time each detail relating to ceramics within the unit books depends on the Ceramic book and is given with it as a starting point. The dynamic aspect derives from the fact that there is instant access to each and every detail as it appears within an argument that builds on these details, and it is interplanar because it continuously refers to data and individual records, each with a web of connections of their own.

As an example, an entry in the horizons section to phase 3p links to 514 elements, for each of which a link is given to its full page, e. g., J1q198-p1; this in turn takes us to the stratum where that sherd occurs, which supports the date proposed in the horizons page.

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Relationship to the Grammar

The Special Ceramics Roster and the Spercial Ceramics Lexicon are nested within a system of “Special Rosters” for specific categories of material found on the excavation according to principles outlined in the Grammar. The special roster and lexicon for ceramics include all categories of ceramic analysis used over the years in the Urkesh/Tell Mozan excavations.

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