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Integrative analysis

Giorgio Buccellati – November 2006

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The primary duty of the excavator is to document fully what has been excavated, not just what pertains to the project’s research strategy or personal scholarly interests. It is to this end that the whole effort of the Urkesh Global Record is directed. Yet it is just as true that excavators have a special relationship to the data, and that the familiarity resulting from their uniquely personal confrontation with those data enjoins them to extract the fullest possible measure of meaning. Even as excavators we must therefore build wider integrative constructs that bring to bear whatever outside evidence is known to us at any given moment.

The integrative dimension, or a lack thereof, must not become a handicap that prevents publication, no more than a lack of a full depositional understanding, or of typological analysis, should hold us back from recognizing the emplacement data’s rightful claim to immediate publication. Hence in many a case (particularly in the future as we expect to arrive at a full publication shortly after the completion of any given season) integrative reflection may be wanting from the early version of the Global Record of any given excavation Unit. Also, in many cases integrative analysis may pertain more properly to a broader Area (e.g., AA) then to a single Unit (e.g., A16).

Even so, the Urkesh Global Record will make room for integrative analysis in the measure in which the excavators may present some reflections from the very early stages of their work, leaving further room for more in depth contributions at later stages of the research. Here I will highlight the major aspects of such an analysis.

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Strata and phases are defined primarily in terms of stratigraphic correlations, and, in the case of phases, by typological considerations as well. Horizons, on the other hand, are broad units of reference relating spatial elements in terms of a temporal sequence, but their definition is based on a variety of other types of evidence as well. Thus the linkage to epigraphic information coming from other sites is used to establish an association with a broader scheme of reference, which pertains in the first place to absolute chronology, and then to a variety of other factors (geographical, ethnic, ideological, etc.).

For example, letters from a “man (ruler) of Urkesh” addressed to his overlord the king of Mari, and found in the royal archives of that city, allow us to assume that some of the strata found in Mozan and datable to the same period may give evidence of the same people who are mentioned in those letters.1 Analogously, the close similarity of certain domestic items (the “andirons”) found at Mozan with others found in the Anatolian highlands suggests both a geographical and an ideological bracketing between the two areas.2

The relationship between strata, phases and horizons may be charted as follows:

strata phases horizons
type of evidence stratigraphic typological integrative

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  • Chuera.

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  • The Mittani period.

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     1See my abstract of J. R. Kupper, Lettres royales du temps de Zimri-Lim, Archives Royales de Mari 28. Paris: Éditions Recherches sur les Civilisations, 1998.
     2See M. Kelly-Buccellati, "Andirons at Urkesh: New Evidence for the Hurrian Identity of Early Transcaucasian Culture," in A. Sagona, ed A View from the Highlands: Archaeological Studies in Honour of Charles Burney. Peeters, 2004, pp. 67-89.

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