1: G. Buccellati, May 2002


     I will establish here the general framework within which to assess the theory and practice of our work at Mozan/Urkesh. Such binomial (theory vs. practice) is very central to our work: the excavation takes places at the modern site of Tell Mozan, and it is only in the context of this particular socio-economic environment that our techniques can be applied and developed further. But from this very practical set of conditions there emerges an intellectual construct that is the ancient city of Urkesh, with all the implications that this entails in terms of cultural history.
     Seemingly remote and arcane, the question about the philosophical presuppositions that underlay our task looms larger than one might think, and they must be made explicit.

     The two broad intellectual domains of the social sciences and the humanities rest on a confrontation that is very productive if properly understood and applied with a concern for reciprocal conceptual enrichment rather than for conflictual academic assertiveness. Within these, other domains are also operative, corresponding to the various disciplines as represented institutionally within academic departments.
     Similarly, a word must be said about the philosophical systems that I perceive to be most influential in shaping archaeological analysis, and which are also behind the trends that are most apparent in the current practice of the discipline of archaeology.
     Upstream of the embodiment within domains, there is a set of basic assumptions of which we must be fully aware.
     Within this broader framework, I will propose a distinctive definition of archaeology that seeks to identify its specific properties along two major directives.
     The notion of publication is by no means limited to the format of a report, be it in paper or electronic format. It is, in effect, a multi-faceted effort at communication, whichrequires a variety of different sensitivities and techniques.
     I will then deal with the impact of the computer seen not as a tool, but as a factor that conditions deeply our way of thinking. This digital dimension is an important aspect of the effort behind the Urkesh website, and draws in some special way on archaeology in general.