The Grammar of the Archaeological Record

1. The System

21. Typology: An Overview

Giorgio Buccellati – June 2010

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21.1: Introduction: stratigraphy and typology

The stated aim of the Urkesh Global Record is to fix in published form, first and foremost, the stratigraphic context of all the data. Such immediacy is the only way, I feel, to bring us closer to the ideal of objectivity – the goal being for the original observations about emplacement and deposition to be public in their original state, without being filtered through the subsequent crystallization process when data are analyzed typologically and functionally.

It goes without saying, however, that such a typological and functional analysis is the final goal of our endeavor, and as such it must be an integral part of the record at every step of the way. Hence much effort goes into a full, if perhaps never complete, typological categorization of the data.

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21.2: Categorization

While the emplacement documentation is final at the very moment that observations are recorded, typological definition of the material found is always open not only to better interpretations, but also to better documentation. What I offer in the UGR is a double tier approach to these needs.

On the one hand, a thorough typological categorization is in place to allow for a fine differentiation in analysis from the very onset.

On the other, the system allows for practically unlimited possibilities to include at any later date further results of in-depth typological analysis.

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21.3: Primary categories

There are three major categories of typological analysis:

  1. Built environment – Architecture is the most important aspect, including both structures and installations. But in addition this category also subsumes use areas and loose materials that are associated with structures and installations.
  2. Objects – These are all manufactured movable items, including ceramics.
  3. Samples and specimens – These are all non-manufactured movable items, especially human remains, animal bones, botanical specimens, soil samples.

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