1: G. Buccellati, November 2002


     The question of meaning is central to contemporary thought, and to archaeo­logical theory as well. In Vico's terms, how do we lend truth to the bare facts?
     There is a whole range of options that color our approach. Hurrian civilization was wholly cut off from the living tra­dition out of which our sensitivities are shaped. How can we ascertain that our infusion of meaning coincides with what must have been their own? As we read the evidence, do we hear their voice, or ours?
     Language is the paradigm. Our under­standing of it follows such rigorous cri­teria that we feel confident we have “deciphered” it.

The image above, chosen as the logo of this section, echoes in a visual key the theme of decipherment:
we “decipher” a ruin and read it as a building.
The broad philosophical principles that guide these processes are outlined under methodology,
with attention given to such fundamental philosopphical issues as epistemology and objectivity.

Here, we present the basic constructs that are currently operative in our field of scholarship,
with regard first to geography and chronology,
the two categories that establish the basic framework of regional peculiarities
and of the sequential ordering of facts.
From these, one can infer environmental conditiong across space
and derivational influences across time.

Socio-political and economic institutions tell us about
the organization of the communities, the impact of power and the distribution of wealth.

The ideological dimension of Hurrian Urkesh is presented in the two sections about
art and religion
where inferential reasoning gains more space and the meaning implications loom ever larger.

Finally, a brief presentation of the individual languages leads us into
the most explicit of all expressive means devised by the ancients,
writing and the textual realities that it discloses.
Parallel to writing, in unexpected ways, and just as momentous,
is the reconstruction we can make of the most ancient music ever known.