Urkesh Ceramic Analysis

Introduction: The Data

The Ceramics Book Corpus

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The Ceramics book format is the same as all the books in the Urkesh Global Record in that pages are divided into three parts with columns on the two sides and the page selected is larger and in the center. In the Ceramics book the Right Hand side is divided into three parts. The top portion (C1) contains the catalogs of selected ceramics organized by time period. In these catalogs the shapes have been selected because I thought they might be characteristic for that period in Urkesh. The catalogs were developed from the beginning of the excavations as a working tool for the analysis of the ceramics that were being excavated. Thus the shapes were chosen from a restricted range of ceramics that were available at the point the final catalog for that period was put together. If subsequent excavations produced shapes from that period needed in the catalog then an addendum was created with these new shapes. For the digital Ceramics book the addenda were combined with the original catalog to create a larger unified catalog for that horizon.

Shape codes were given at the point a shape was added to the catalog for that period. The codes were for all ceramics from all periods we were excavating based on shape categories and not on context or chronology. Because the catalogs were conceived as a collection of the vessel shapes from that time period, there was no attempt, initially to harmonize the shape codes across horizons. An overview through time is found in the Cross-horizon section of C1.

There had been few excavations in the Jezira before we began and this meant we had to develop our shape catalogs from the beginning of the excavations. Consequently the choice of the individual shapes to be included in the catalog for each horizon is not based on a statistical evaluation of their frequency in the horizon. These catalogs were made for the purpose of analyzing the ceramics from that horizon, so upstream from the availability of the analytical data. The analytical data in various formats are presented in the individual excavation digital books. For instance in the A16 website on the Left Side under tabulations) a number of frequency computations for ceramic vessels and sherds are given.

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Data set

The total number of items for each of the three major sections is as follows:

  1. Shapes by horizon: 1435
  2. Shapes by context: 2429
  3. Shapes by typology: 405

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