The Main Roster

June 2010 - G. Buccellati
A Digital Monograph
The home for this page is Mozan Sitewide > Grammar > The System


6.5 Identification

6.6 Designation and count

6.7 Recovery and assignment

6.8 Volumetric localization

6.9 Axial definition

6.10 Contact association

6.11 Spatial aggregation

6.12 Deposition

6.13 Time sequencing

6.14 Measurements

6.15 Descriptive

6.16 Manufacturing

6.17 Function

6.18 Conservation

6.19 Analogical record

6.20 Disposition
6.21 Publications and Files

6.1 Introductory

      In practical terms, the roster may be viewed as a checklist of pertinent headings under which observations are to be entered. Conceptually, the roster spells out the full range of possible variables which, together, define any given constituent. In another respect, however, the conceptual import of the roster is more significant, since it constitutes the structural backbone of the entire observational system that is brought to bear on the evidence as it is collected. The roster categories ought in fact to reflect a structural and systemic framework which matches a priori considerations, all the while being rooted in the concrete dynamics of practical observations. In other words, the roster is built at the same time on the inductive observation of facts and on the deductive argumentation of principles.

      That is to say that the concept of roster is at the core of the concept of grammar, somewhat like paradigms are for a linguistic grammar. A paradigm is of course based on the reality of a spoken language, but it is at the same time a predictive structural component of what is called in Saussurian terms the “langue.”

6.2 Current version

      The Main Roster, like any other roster, is subject to ongoing revisions and updates. As a result, it is indispensable to tie both the sequence of roster slots (variants) and their respective contents (variables) to a specific versions of the Roster and the Lexicon. The version described here is the fifth one for the Main Roster. The code for it is: Zmr-005.

      The code for the current version appears next to date and initials after each entry of the archive.

6.3 Major categories

      The five major categories under which the variables are subsumed serve a descriptive function only, and are used in the ordering of the roster.

      The first such category, identification, is external to the analysis proper: the variables of this type serve, on the one hand, to amplify the information provided already by the label given to the constituent, and, on the other, to specify the nature of the same constituent, including, where necessary, its breakdown into components.

      The second category, stratigraphy, is obviously the single most important one. It includes data pertaining to both emplacement and deposition, and is the one that must be followed most accurately, and in timely fashion, i.e., during the excavation proper. The obvious reason is that most of these attributes cannot be observed after the excavation of that particular element is completed.

      Some aspects of typology are also to be observed directly in the field, in particular measurements and descriptions of features that are to be removed, such as floor accumulations. Typology of items and q-lots, on the other hand, is generally best recorded in the laboratory after the excavation process is completed. However, basic observations in the field are necessary, primarily to provide a safeguard in case labels get detached from the item or lots at any time during the process of analysis. It is also for this category that secondary rosters are generally designed.

      A variety of different treatments is brought to bear on the material excavated, both in the field and in laboratories away from the field house. The Main Roster includes only conservation, because this is the one treatment that is in fact obligatory for any element that is otherwise in danger of deterioration. Our entries describe the intervention, or need thereof, that may result in the modification of the element as found. Other types of treatment, that may include such diverse categories as soil analysis in the field or thermoluminescence in a remote laboratory, require more specialized rosters, and are in fact generally presented as text files corresponding to the laboratory report.

      Finally, the category of reference supplies external information that is overlaid, as it were, to the original constituent. In this respect, “reference” is somewhat parallel to “identification,” in that it provides a tracking record of the constituent all the way down to its physical disposition and the chain of documentary and interpretive follow-ups in publication.

      In what follows, I will explain only those variables which are not immediately obvious, and will provide a minimum of exemplification as needed. Purpose of the presentation given here is to explain the format found in the archive. One will also find an explanation of special constraints, in particular those pertaining to fixed format For further details on data entry, where different, one will refer to chapter 25 below.

      A synopsis of the Main Roster is given separately.

6.4 Fixed format and local notes

      Whenever entries are subjected to a special format, the constraints that apply are described below. “Local” notes, i.e. notes that qualify entries subjected to fixed format, may be given at any time, and are preceded by the @ sign following the entry as required by the fixed format rules. For other limitations on data structure see below, chapter … .

6.5 Identification

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A - Labeling

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A1 =l – equals other label

      It applies to elements which have duplicate labels, generally as a result of a switch in books or of an error in recording (e.g., when two items are given the same label at different points in time by two different recorders).

     Fixed format: only one label may be given.

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A2 >l – includes other label

     This applies to a label which is identical to one or more other labels. It differs from A1 because the labels belong to distinct and equally valid categories, and because one label subsumes several labels.

     This is especially the case when a given element or referent is subdivided into other elements, as a result of either further excavation or more complete typological analysis. An example of the former is when two features originally understood as two distinct walls (say, f34 and f42) turn out to be portions of the same wall (which might be labeled f62, including f34 and f42). An example of typological refinement might be a sealing (say i26), which is then identified as showing the impression of a seal (say n3), of a cord (n4), of a peg (n5). An example of a referent including elements is a view that includes features and items.

     In some cases, the result of typological analysis leads to the establishment of an altogether new element, i.e., a join or an aggregate. Aggregates are more complex and have their own set of codes (see below, category G). Elements included within a join, on the other hand, would be listed under A2.

      Fixed format: several labels may be given, each separated by a comma and a space from the following label.

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A3 !! – included under other label

      This is the passive of A2, meaning that each element mentioned in A2 appears in A3, under the proper element label. Thus, if for f62 the roster slot A2 indicates that it includes f34 and f42, then, under f34 and under f62, respectively, the slot A3 will indicate that each is included within f62. (In the input, as we will see in chapter 25, only the active relationship is entered.)

      Fixed Format. Only one label may be given.

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A4 o# – other field number

      Occasionally, special sequences may be used, e.g., for temporary lists that acquire eventually a referential value and ought to be conserved. This might happen, for instance, if a log is missing and a temporary sequential list is established.

      Fixed Format. Only one label may be given.

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A5 sp – typological specific label

      Separate lists are maintained for individual classes of features and items, and the pertinent number is given here; more than one label is possible. When needed, fuller explanation of the reasons for assigning the element to that particular typological class will be found below under K12, K99, M1-2. For example, a given item (say q103.1) is identified as a tablet. The identification tb will be entered in the primary identification slot (B1, see presently). At a later date, the epigraphist may set up a list of all tablets, and this particular item may receive the sequential number 27 within such a list; through further study, the tablet is identified as being a lexical text, and it is given the sequential number 2 within a list of lexical tablets. In such a case, slot A5 may be used twice, the first time listing ^tb27, and the second ^tb-lexical2.

      Fixed Format. Only one label may be given for each slot. If more than one label is applicable, each will have a separate roster entry.

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A6 – publication number

     The official publication number in the project publication series (which is described in slot Q3). For example, the animal figurine K1.12 will show M1 209 in slot A6, whereas in slot Q3 there will be the reference to the volume Mozan 1, p. 81 and Plate I.

6.6 Designation and count

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B1 !! – photo

     An image (photo or drawing) that appears in full size at the beginning of a display page for views and photos of objects. [[[WHERE IS THIS USED?]]]

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B2 !! – photo web

      Thumbnails of photos and drawings that define the full web with the main view and all subviews. [[[WHERE IS THIS USED?]]]

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B10 df – definition (typological label)

      Generally, the codes given in the lexica (see below, 17) are preferred, e.g., cv for ceramic vessel. Such codes are not required, but are recommended for the purpose of easy sorting.

     The alphabetic code used is the same as for specific labels (A5), but here no sequential number is given.

     In the case of q-lots, no definition proper is possible, but only a list of components, which is given under roster slot B21.

     As for any other roster slot, several alternative definitions are possible, often as a result of a refinement of typological analysis. If so, they are not given within the same slot; rather, the slot is repeated as often as necessary.

     Fixed Format. A maximum of 20 characters is allowed: this constraint is imposed only to avoid excessive length in a field for which sorting is of prime importance.

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B11 ds – text description (summary)

     A summary of what are perceived to be the most important aspects of the constituent in question. The information given here must also be present in the appropriate fields below; for instance, a description such as “A long and well preserved bronze spearhead” corresponds to the following fields: length, condition, ware/material, function, where more precise information will be given. Sometimes, this field may also be used at the time of field recording when time pressure may not allow to ascertain precisely to which specific field the information belongs. In such case, the data may be edited as appropriate at the time of data entry.

     This field is admittedly redundant. It serves the primary purpose of providing a quick overview of data which, especially if considerable in size, may otherwise not be immediately apparent in their significance. Obviously, only that information may be sorted that is distributed analytically in the specific fields, whereas this particular field is not susceptible of sorting.

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B12 // – graphic description

     This is a row of up to four thumbnails from photos and/or drawings. It is entered as a correction to the roster codes O2-O3 generated by the program that creates J files from photo/drawing directories

B13 - volumetric description

     Comments on the choice of relays used to define a given feature. For exam-ple, if a corner of a wall is missing, one may explain here how the relays that were actually taken do define the perimeter of the wall itself.

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B20 qc – quantity of components

     The sum total of components that constitute this element – such as the fragments that make up a tablet. The quantity of components for a q-lot would include all the typological subcategories, such as pottery or bones; the specific totals for various subcategories are given under the pertinent label, and are derived through the tabulation program (see below, 25.6 and 24.4). Thus if under a given lot q104 there is a total quantity of 182 components, they may be subdivided as follows:

 Q\0104 qc 182  total quantity for q-lot: 182 components
 QB\0104 qc 12  total quantity for bone lot: 12 bones
 QP\010490 qc 2  total quantity for pottery lot, group 1 (for a given ware): 2 sherds
 QP\010491 qc 48  total quantity for pottery lot, group 2 (for a given ware): 48 sherds
 QP\010492 qc 82  total quantity for pottery lot, group 3 (for a given ware): 82 sherds
 QP\010493 qc 11  total quantity for pottery lot, group 4 (for a given ware): 11 sherds
 QI\010401 qc 27  total quantity for item lot: 27 pieces

     Fixed Format. Only numeric data may be given in this field.

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B21 – list of components

     This is primarily used for q-lots, which do not, in and of themselves, admit of a definition. Another possible use is for features, where given “inclusions” may be listed here – e.g., bricks and mortar for a wall, pebbles or ash for a lens. If any of these components is singled out for further description, it is listed as a separate element, as is regularly the case for q-lots.

     An example for a q-lot:
 Q\0104 bpi  q-lot 104 includes bones, pottery and items
 QB\0104  bone lot 104 (to be further defined after fuller typological analysis)
 QP\010490 ROG  first pottery lot: ware ROG
 QP\010491 ETC  second pottery lot: ware ETC
 QP\010492 R  third pottery lot: ware R
 QP\010493 WS  fourth pottery lot: ware WS
 QI\010401 pebbles  item lot: pebbles

     An example for a feature:
 F\0091 ip  wall f91 includes items and pottery
 FI\010401 brick  first item component of wall is a brick
 FI\010402 pebble  second item component of wall is a pebble
 FP\010401 sherd  first pottery component of wall is a sherd

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B22 nq – notes on quantity

     Other than for local notes, which are added directly to a fixed format entry preceded by the @ sign, this roster slot is used for notes which refer in general to counting for the given entry, for instance, when certain problems are noted which affect the entire element, as in the case of a sherd bag that broke so that some of the sherds might have been lost in the process.

6.7 Recovery and assignment

      Elements are found, referents are imposed. Recovery refers to the first process, and assignment to the second: on the one hand we recover, say, a wall or a jar; on the other, we assign a relay or a stratum. The record that is kept of these activities documents the dynamics of the excavation.

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C1 dy – daily notes

     This roster slot is used especially for elements or referents that are subjected to a protracted period of excavation: the resulting sequence of entries provides a history of the recovery process. In the case of certain major elements, such as floors, or major referents, such as loci, this can be an important window on the development through which the identification process has progressed. As in B2, this can also serve as a summary, sorted chronologically; in such case, it is important that the analytical observations be registered as well in the pertinent roster slots.

     The difference must be noted between this entry and the -dy entry found in the lexicon for incidentals (see below, 17). The latter pertains to the entire area or book, whereas a C1 = dy entry pertains only to the current constituent.

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C2 sg – strategy (projected or implemented)

     A description of the approach to be followed, or the one that has actually been followed, in the excavation. Here one notes especially the goals towards which the excavation aims, the limitations chosen or imposed (such as the speed required under given circumstances), the conditions which one may expect as the excavation progresses. For instance, having come upon a congealed mass of bricks, one may indicate that a determination of its origin is important, whereby the excavation will proceed slowly attempting to articulate each individual brick; one may assume this to be a brickfall that sheds light on the history of a presumed building which may be at the origin of the brickfall, and that the face alignment of the individual bricks may shed light on the direction of the fall.

     Here, too, the difference must be noted between this entry and the -sg entry found in the lexicon for incidentals (see below, 17).

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C3 ar – argument

     A detailed account of stratigraphic or depositional considerations that derive from the data recovered through excavation. For instance, if a given wall is deemed to be contemporary with another, one would articulate here the reasons for that inference, such as the fact that a given floor abuts both walls (which argues for their simultaneous use, but not their having been built together), or the fact that the walls themselves bond with each other (which argues for simultaneous construction). This is also the place for presenting the reasons supporting a given stratum assignment.

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C4 pr – procedures

     The manner in which a given strategy is implemented, e.g., whether or not certain elements (such as bones) will be collected systematically; the use of tools (large pick vs. small pick, sifting, etc.); the number and quality of workmen employed; etc.

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C5 op – options (alternatives)

     If a given strategy has been chosen out of several possible alternatives, which have been discarded, these are outlined here. For instance, instead of a brickfall as outlined under strategy, this may be the remnant of an outdoor brick making installation.

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C6 ac – accidents

     A place to record unintended events, such as a sudden storm or a workman going beyond the assigned limits.

6.8 Volumetric localization

     Elements are placed at given points in space, and the three-dimensional grid with which we operate allows us to establish a firm correlation between the physical reality and the digital representation we construct. A locus is a broad referential frame within which the excavation is bounded. More specific referential links are obtained by linking elements to relays (which in turn are linked to markers). Relays (and markers) are individual links that match physical points on the excavation with dots on the grid, with an accuracy range of about 1 cm (see below, 20). Such relays are combined into larger combinations that describe, digitally and graphically, the physical reality that is being excavated: these are the D-files and the P-files, which render for the most part, as combinations of relays, features and clusters of items.

     It is especially in this area that the application of a full fledged GIS and 3-D system will alter the current technical aspects of the record. However, the basic concept of a volumetric localization that is tied to absolute coordinates is already fully present in the present articulation, and thus the methodological presuppositions, if not the technique, will remain the same. In fact, it may be said that the approach used here anticipates in principle the goals of a GIS system and shows how to apply the substance of that method in the absence of the necessary technical resources and expertise. Until those will become easily and universally available, the system presented here offers a modest but effective alternative. It goes without saying that the data structured in this grammar’s format will be susceptible of an easy “migration” to a high level GIS system when available.

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D1 lc – locus

     The locus (or grid square) within which a given element is found. Note that this is not the place where observations about the locus are included (these go under the appropriate k label for that particular locus): it is only a cross-reference indicating that, say, a given wall is found in this particular locus.

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D2 lv – level

     Levels in the technical sense described above (13.6 (1)) are not generally employed in our system, since absolute elevations are used instead. A level would bracket the space between two fixed elevations, e.g., every 25 cms from top down beginning at elevation 9850 (hence level 1 = 9850-9826; level 2 = 9825-9801; level 3 9800-9776; etc.)

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D3 !! – relays (applicable to elements)

     The number that identifies the label of a relay attached to this particular element. Generally, there is only one relay for items and q-lots, and several for features. The relay number is entered automatically by the R program.

     Fixed Format. Only one label may be given. If several relays apply to the same element (e.g., to define the perimeter of a wall), a different entry is given for each relay; they will be sorted by relay number.

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D4 - D18

     These slots are applicable exclusively to relays (they are generally entered through the R-log and processed through the R-program).

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D4 !! – North coordinate of relay

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D5 !! – East coordinate of relay

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D6 !! – elevation

     These values are generally entered by the R program, which also computes the pertinent figures (i.e., obtains the actual coordinates and the actual elevation from field measurements).

     Fixed Format. All entries are numeric

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D7 rf – relay definition

     If there is something particular associated with a relay, it is given here. This is the case, for instance, when the relay, taken at the northwest corner of a wall (to be identified as such under D9), shows a particular notch in the stone, or another is taken at a particular point of a floor which shows a rodent hole.

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D8 cl – constituent label to which relay applies

     A relay is always related to a given constituent, such as a feature, an item, a locus. The label identifying such constituent is given here.

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D9 rl – relay location on element

     An identification of the point on the constituent to which the relay applies. For instance, one will identify as such the southwest corner of a given wall (identified in turn in D8 as the element to which the relay applies)

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D10 - D16

     These slots provide a record of how the pertinent numeric data (coordinates and elevation) have been obtained. They do not have a current relevance, but serve only an archival purpose.

     Fixed Format. All entries are either numeric (D14-D16) or limited to a specific code (D10) or to a referent label (D11-D13).

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D10 mm – method of measurement

     The most common method is by taking ties from known points. For more details, see below, chapter 25.

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D11 o1 – origin of tie 1

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D12 o2 – origin of tie 2

     These are generally markers (occasionally also relays) from which a tie is taken to establish the current relay. The pertinent label is given in this slot.

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D13 oe – origin of elevation

     The absolute elevation read on a permanent marker is given here.

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D14 t1 – tie 1

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D15 t2 – tie 2

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D16 te – tie to elevation

     Numeric values in centimeters for the distances between the current relay and the points identified in D11-D13.

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D17 !! – reference to digital files

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D18 !! – reference to plot files

     A file in which are included the relays describing a given constituent. See below, chapter 20, for more details.

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D19 rp – reference to plans, drawings, sections (W-files)

     Analogical sketches or artwork (see below, chapter 22) are scanned and thus available as W-files. When a constituent is included, reference to the scanned W-file is given here.

6.9 Axial definition

     While volumetric localization identifies the point(s) in space where a constituent is located, axial definition identifies the position in space of the same constituent in terms of its various axes. The first category (slope) stands by itself and it is used especially for broad surfaces, such as floors. The other three categories (inclination, orientation and rotation) are all correlative to each other and are taken together (for details see below, 25). The directional point used to identify the direction of the pertinent axes must be spelled out individually for each category. Since the information recorded under D9 gives the location of the relay on the element, one is in a position to duplicate the exact emplacement of the element.

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E1 sl – slope

     A generic indication of slope, used especially for broad surfaces such as floors, and expressed in degrees and the direction towards the lowest point. For example, “15 SW” describes a plane sloping down towards the South at about 15 degrees.

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E2 in – inclination

     A more specific indication of slope, taken with reference to a specific (generally vertical) axis. It must be used in concomitance with orientation and rotation, and the various axes must be defined in relationship to a given directional point. It is used primarily for items; thus, e.g., a spearhead may be indicated as having an inclination of 45 with the tip of the spearhead being at the lowermost point.

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E3 or – orientation

     This is also generally given in relationship to the same (vertical) axis and directional point used for inclination, and is expressed in terms of the cardinal point towards which the directional point is aimed. Thus, e.g., the same spearhead is recorded as aiming with its tip towards ESE.

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E4 ro – rotation

     For objects which are not fully symmetrical (such as a spherical object without distinguishing marks) one should indicate the rotation of the item on itself. For instance, a spearhead may lay flat in terms of its horizontal axis, but oblique in terms of its horizontal axis. Rotation is defined in terms of a clock position of the horizontal axis in relationship to the vertical axis, looking in a certain direction and locking onto a given directional point; thus the right side of a spearhead, looking down its shaft towards the tip, may be turned in a 5 o'clock position (if flat, it would be in a 3 o'clock position).

     The definition of the rotation attribute was first articulated by Ralph Siegemund as part of a term paper he wrote for an archaeology seminar I was teaching.

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E99 na – notes on axial definition

     This slot may be used to identify in a shorthand sort of way relevant information which cannot be expressed, for lack of time, in the more precise manner described above. For instance, the fact that a bowl has been found upside down may more easily be recorded by stating that fact here, rather than by attempting to translate it into measurements.

6.10 Contact association

     Having defined the localization and the position in space of any given element, one must observe the way in which individual elements come in contact with each other. This is one of the most important and powerful aspects of the system as a whole: if observed and recorded systematically, these contacts build up the objective depositional history of each element, and eventually lead to the establishment of a complete depositional synopsis (which is a more complete version of the so-called Harris matrix, see below, 26.5).

     All entries involve two elements, but the information is given systematically under the element that acts as the subject in the relationship. For details (and one exception), see below, 26.5.

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F1 bo – boundaries

     A generic category, through which one may describe the point of contact as such. Here, for instance, one may record whether boundaries are merging or sharp, preserved for the full extent of the element or not, etc.

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F2 tc –type of contact

     This is at the core of the observations about contact association. A range of possibilities is spelled out in the lexicon (see below, 17), a lexicon that, unlike others, is a closed and self-contained subsystem and claims to be exhaustive, i.e., to include all possible types of contact.

     It is indispensable to add, whenever applicable, detailed observations documenting the nature of the contact, possibly referring to a pertinent photographic documentation. For example, if it is stated that two walls are bonded, one should indicate how this has been verified, and ideally one should refer to a photo that documents the observation; or again, if one states that an ashy floor accumulation abuts an unplastered wall, one should relate the observation that the black color of the ash has been found directly on the stones, whereas a subsequent, non-ashy floor accumulation, did not leave such color on the stones (here, too, with reference to a photographic documentation). These observations should be in the form of local notes after the fixed format.

     Fixed Format. The abbreviated form of the verb expressing the type of contact (for which see below, 17) It is followed by a space and a number corresponding to the proper feature. Note that only features may occur as objects.

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F3 – interface of t or n

     A trace (t) or a negative (n, see 13.3) are identified as such because they have left an impression on another element with which they were in contact. In this case, the contact association is physically observable, but one of the terms of the contact is not. While the contact association is given in F2, the nature of the inference requires a special explanation, to which this slot is reserved.

6.11 Spatial aggregation

     While contact associations are observable in and of themselves, non-contact associations are observable only inferentially. To the former belong, e.g., a wall abutting another wall; to the latter, two walls which do not touch each other but are linked by a floor which abuts both. For this inferential process I use the term “spatial aggregation,” while the term “aggregate” (see above, 12.3) refers to the cluster of elements that are inferred to belong together. In the example just quoted, the cluster of walls (and the floor that links them) form together a generic aggregate (to which the specific term “room” might subsequently be applied).

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G1 !! – aggregate (to which element belongs)

     As an attribute describing, e.g., a wall, this slot contains a reference to the aggregate (which more specifically might be a room) to which the wall belongs.

     Elements may be nested into a variety of aggregates. In such case, there will be several entries, each with a different aggregate.

     The entry is generated by a program from a list of elements included within a given aggregate (a).

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G3 – G19 – These slots are applicable exclusively to aggregates

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G3 – nature of association

     An association may be closed or open. In the first instance, all elements constituting the aggregate are in indirect physical contact with each other, as with the example given above of a floor linking two or more walls. An open association, on the other hand, is interrupted in some fashion: for instance, if the floor is cut longitudinally by a pit, the aggregation between the walls and the portions of the floor on either side of the pit is broken, and the inference correspondingly less firm.

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G4 – criteria for association

     The inference on which the association is predicated is detailed here: for instance, a group of vessels resting on a floor may be considered an aggregate, on account on their sitting right side up on the same surface; their being isolated vis-ΰ-vis other objects laying on the same floor; their functional correlation (jars and cups); etc.

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G5 – element preserving the interface of n or t

     If a seal is postulated as a t element because of the trace it left on a mud sealing, there is an inferred spatial association between the two. Under the appropriate element identified by a t prefix, there will be a reference to the i element that preserves the interface.

     The entry is given only for the t element, and is extended by the program to the i element.

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G10-13 – elements within aggregate

     Fixed format. Numbers without prefixes refer to pertinent element label, e.g. G11 45,33,65 refers to features 45, 33 and 65 contained in a given aggregate

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G10 – aggregates within aggregate

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G11 – features within aggregate

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G12 – items within aggregate

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G13 – q-lots within aggregate

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G14 – q-items within aggregate

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G15 – pottery lots within aggregate

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G16 – bone lots within aggregate

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G17 – q-lot with which item is associated

6.12 Deposition

     A full depositional analysis presupposes an even higher level of inference, and is not generally linked to individual elements, but rather to their overall interaction. Hence a depositional discussion is best couched in terms of normal text rather than in terms of the global record format described here. On the other hand, a depositional understanding is never absent all the while the excavation is progressing, and to this extent it must be made explicit. This can best happen in relation to the key elements which give rise to the depositional understanding in the first place. If we assume that a foundation trench has been dug to serve for the construction of a wall, the reasons for this conclusion can best be stated in connection with the feature corresponding to the foundation trench.

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H1 – definition of process(es)

     The understanding of a given depositional process is described in detail; when alternative interpretations are possible, they are given, preferably as separate entries. The way in which the depositional process as understood conditions the excavation strategy should also be made explicit. For instance a vertical column of solid bricky material may be understood as a structural column or as pit fill: the case may be made for both, indicating what additional factors may be expected from further excavation to support either interpretation.

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H2 – evidence

     The physical evidence from emplacement, which justifies the depositional understanding, is given here, as might be (however briefly) comparative information from the same site or other sites. For example, a foundation trench is so understood because of the slope of the side walls, the nature of the fill, the fact that the lowest courses of bricks jut out (as known from other buildings), etc.

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H3 – assumption

     When no physical evidence is available to support a given interpretation, but an assumption in its favor seems reasonable, the terms of the assumption are spelled out here. For instance, a sudden truncation of a floor surface may be explained assuming that a pit was dug into the floor, even though erosion has obliterated the contours of the presumed pit and no trace has been left of any fill within it.

6.13 Time sequencing

     What deposition is to space, strata assignment is to time: strata are non-observable realities, which are inferred on the basis of both observed data and of as-sumed interstices within the data. The definition and description of the stratum itself are given under roster slots B1 and B2, and the reasons for the particular assignment are given under I10-I11.
     Strata sequences are tied to individual excavation units or areas. Hence a stratum must be identified by a qualification suffix (preceded by a hyphen) that contains the reference top the perti-nent unit or area.
     In addition, since strata sequences are updated within the course of the excava-tions and of recording (see above, 2.15), the qualification suffix also contains a letter indicating the generation. Examples are: -JPA, -AAD, -A10E.

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I1 !! – stratum (to which element belongs)

     This entry is given for a given element, and it identifies the stratum to which the element belongs.

     Fixed Format. Only one stratum label is allowed. If more than one stratum is assigned to the same element, as many entries are required as there are strata assigned. The reasons for the duplication are given as local notes.

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I2 – features contained within stratum

     Only features are assigned to strata: since items and q-lots are associated with features, they are indirectly linked to the stratum to which the feature belongs. (An explicit reference to the stratum under the pertinent item or q-lot is produced by a program.)

     Fixed Format. One or more feature labels are allowed, separated by a comma.

I3 – phase (to which element belongs)

I4 – strata contained within phase

     Same as for I1 and I2

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I5 – horizon (to which element belongs)

     Horizons are not technical constituents (see above, 13.1), hence they do not occur as independent labels. They are assigned to strata and phases within a text file, and the pertinent reference to a given element may be added here for the sake of clarity and convenience.

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I6 – absolute determination (C14, date, etc.)

     Chronological determinations that are derived from external points of reference are given here, e.g., as a result of C14 analysis, or by reference to a firm typological sequence, or on the basis of a dated tablet.

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I10 – stratigraphic reasons for assignment

     Give details about assignment of a feature to a given stratum, from a strictly stratigraphic point of view (type of contact, absolute elevation, etc.)

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I11 – typological reasons for assignment

     Give details about assignment of a feature to a given stratum, from a strictly typological point of view (pottery analysis, glyptics, epigraphy, etc.). Note if there are conflicts with I10.

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I12 – other reasons, reservations, qualifications

     Give details about other reasons and especially about doubts regarding a given assignment, reasons for assigning a feature to more than one stratum, etc.


6.14 Measurements

     Different measurements may be arrived at depending on the time when, and the manner in which, they were taken. A first quick measurement of an object in the field may not be very accurate (due to lack of time or tools, such as calipers), or may turn out to be erroneous after cleaning. Some of these measurements may be discarded in the final editing, as they serve primarily the purpose of identification in case labels are misplaced in transit.

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J1 - J7 – height, length, width, size, thickness

     The terms for each slot describe positions where the measurement is taken, and should be self-explanatory. Local notes should be used to make positions more explicit where necessary: e.g., the widths for a figurine or a complex metal blade may be more than three, and may not be taken at the same position in each case. In addition, one may of course develop a separate special roster (see below, 18), and one may also refer to measured drawings.

     Fixed Format. All measurements for these slots are in centimeters.

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J8 wt – weight

     Fixed Format. All measurements for this slot are in grams.

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J9 ca – capacity

     Fixed Format. All measurements for this slot are in liters.

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J10 rw – reference to drawing (W files)

     Analogical sketches or artwork (see below, chapter 22) are scanned and thus available as W-files. When a constituent is included, reference to the scanned W-file is given here.

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J11 – reference to special records

     Special descriptive files, in the form of a text file (see below, ...), may add relevant information to a given element: reference to the text file is included here.

6.15 Descriptive

     It is especially for this category that Special Rosters may be used to supplement the basic information that is provided in the Main Roster: for instance, full descriptive variables for architectural details such as doorways, for artifact classes such as figurines, for written documents such as cuneiform tablets, for specimens such human or animal bones, must be accounted for separately. Thus, even such basic information as to whether a human skeleton is male or female will not be found in the Main Roster. Thus the variables provided in the Main Roster serve the primary need of expanding briefly the designation and identification of the individual items.

     In most cases, a full typological analysis goes well beyond the limits intended for this system. The alternative approaches that we have developed (for instance for the study of seals and seal impressions or for the linguistic analysis of cuneiform texts), may go even beyond the compass of the Special Rosters, and fit instead within the broader scope of Cybernetica Mesopotamica (see above, 1.1).

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K1 cp – components (within element)

     A discursive description of the individual components (otherwise listed in B4). This is a shortcut, in lieu of making a separate file for each component, and providing then a description for each under slot B2 of each individual entry. For instance, a batch of pebbles found within a floor accumulation, may be described as to number, color and generic size (such as “roughly spherical, between 4 and 6 cms in diameter”). This would be a compromise between simply saying that there are pebbles, on the one hand, and making a separate entry for the component, with precise measurements and a more accurate description for each.

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K2 di – distribution (of components within element)

     This is an additional observation for components that are not analyzed under a separate entry: it refers to such factors as alignment or density. For example, of a batch of pebbles one may note that they are scattered loosely, but along a single plane.

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K3 wm – ware or material

     Different degrees of precision are possible, from the initial field observation to the field house evaluation after cleaning to a specialized laboratory analysis performed by a specialist - thus going, e.g., from “metal” to “bronze” to “arsenical/copper alloy.” Dates and initials will earmark the successive stages, and identify their relative value.

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K4 sh – shape, form

     To the extent that detailed lexica are available for any given class of artifacts, this variable will be sufficient to provide a thorough coverage; see, e.g., the lexicon for ceramic shapes given below, 17….

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K5 co – color

     When color is not matched against the Munsell standards, but is rather identified impressionistically, this roster slot is used.

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K6 c# – color number (Munsell)

     This roster slot is used when the Munsell reading is given. It includes both the color number and the Munsell color name.

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K7 hd – hardness, compaction

     In most cases, this remains an impressionistic evaluation. When precise standards are used, such as the penetrometer for soil compaction (see below, ...), this should be noted.

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K8 tx ­– texture, surface finish

     Texture refers to an essentially impressionistic feel for the surface tactile qualities, which may be, e.g., smooth, granular, coarse, etc. We have at present a lexicon only for ceramic surface finish, see below ....

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K9 de ­– decoration

     A reference to decorative patterns such as incised herring bones or color bands on ceramics. Complex repetitive patterns may be dealt with through a lexicon, whereas unique and complex decorative features (such as elaborate treatments of the head of a metal pin) are described with as full a prose statement as needed.

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K10 cn – condition

K11 pv – preservation

     Condition refers to a qualitative, and preservation to a quantitative aspect. Consider the following examples. A pot may be preserved without a break, but be badly weathered: it will be described as whole (under pv) but damaged (under cn). Or it may be shattered in many pieces, which may or may not be reconstituted into a full vessel, the former being “complete” and the latter “broken” (pv); if the sherds show no blemish of the original surface, then the condition is excellent, even if the vessel is in pieces.

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K12 if – iconographic definition: generic

K13 is – iconographic description: specific (scene)

     Representational items, such as sculptures or figurines, seals or seal impressions, should be identified and described as to their major figurative characteristics. The relationship between the two variables is flexible. Fort example, a seal may be defined as “animal combat” under if, and receive a specific code under is; similarly for a figurine, defined as “equid” under if, with a specific code under is. We use the term “scene” to refer in an abbreviated sort of way to the more specific type of definition. Finer differentiations, resulting from detailed typological study, may be treated either with special lexica or with additional variables in Special Rosters.

     Fixed Format. For sorting purposes, it is best if the variants used for these variables are uniform, preferably in the form of codes. For this reason, the maximum length of either field is set at 20 characters.

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K14 sc – iconographic description

     A free format description of the iconographic content of a given object.

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K15 st – style

     A free format description of the style of a given object, including formal preferences, expressive patterns, etc. Here, too, one may develop either a specialized lexicon or an alternative roster to accommodate a fuller range of descriptive options.

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K16 ty – type

     A combination of factors that together define the member of a group, and differentiate it from other groups. For example, a type of vessel may be defined on the basis of ware and shape. If a sequential list is established, then the label, inclusive of the sequential number, is given in A5.

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K17 ip – inscription

     Minimally, one may state that a given object is inscribed. Maximally, one may give a translation and appropriate comments. Obviously, a full epigraphic treatment requires a distinct roster, but ultimately a different approach (which has been pursued for the linguistic component within the framework of Cybernetica Mesopotamica, see above, 1.1).

K90 ni – notes on items

K91 np – notes on pottery

K92 nb – notes on bones

     General notes about the components (generally of a feature), describing for instance combined typological traits, or inferences to be dawn about dating.

6.16 Manufacturing

     Measurements and description analyze the element as it is in its static dimension. Manufacturing and function add a dynamic dimension, the former with regard to the constitutive process which has brought the element into existence, the latter with regard to the use to which it is destined.

     Purpose of the global record is obviously to record the data from the excavations, so the Main Roster is not meant for any extensive treatment of either manufacturing or function, even less for dealing with ethno-archaeological observations. So these entries are reserved to record objective data, especially those belonging to emplacement which may otherwise easily be lost, and to propose minimal inferences which may especially help to understand the process of deposition that features and items have undergone.

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L1 – evidence

     It is particularly important to note here evidence pertaining to architecture, of the type that is likely to disappear with time, such as shovel marks, which prove that a given vertical face is the result of a cut made into a preexistent matrix. Details pertaining to objects are also entered here, for example: some particularity of wheel marks on a ceramic vessel, the application of clay appendages to a vessel where the process is apparent and meaningful (e.g., two halves of a large jar joined after being made on the wheel), the use of a mold in producing a plaque, the type of drill used in making seals, a frayed stylus used in writing a tablet, etc.

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L2 – assumption

     Inferences based on the data observed may especially be useful in reconstructing depositional history, thus for instance it is useful to speculate on ways in which a collapsed vault or a burnt roof may have been built, because this may throw light on isolated strands of evidence in the ground which might otherwise easily be missed during the excavations – say, the direction of fallen bricks which presuppose, precisely, a vault, or the presence of burnt clay pieces which presuppose a mud roof supported by small beams with a reed matting.

6.17 Function

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M1 – generic function (first degree of specificity)

M2 – space, use (second degree of specificity)

M3 – activity definition (second degree of specificity)

     Several degrees of specificity are applicable to the same element, depending on the level of analysis intended. The Main Roster provides only a first step in this direction, by defining two degrees of specificity, of which the second is further differentiated as to the setting in space or the activity it is meant to serve. These roster slots are used to justify such definition, especially when an evaluation of uncertain or unclear evidence is required.

     If a sequential list is established, then the label, inclusive of the sequential number, is given in A5.

     Examples of the first degree are a room defined as an enclosed space with controlled access through one or more doorways, or a jar understood as a vessel from which a liquid can be drawn by pouring. Example of the second degree would the definition of a room as a sleeping room or a jar as an oil jar.


6.18 Conservation

     The roster categories given below were developed in conjunction with Samer Abd-el-Ghafour and Sophie Bonetti. They serve primarily to account for the work done in the field conservation lab.

     For other types of treatment not covered in the Main Roster, see above, 14.3.

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N1 – current conditions

     This variable describes the conditions in which the element is found, before any treatment. It is generally documented photographically as well.

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N2 – procedures suggested

     Not all the work that needs to be done can be done, or can be done at once. This roster slot identifies what is potentially important, and helps to outline alternatives and to establish priorities.

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N3 – procedures employed

     When work has been carried out, the procedures actually employed are referred to here, and the results obtained are described in detail; these are also generally documented photographically.

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N4 – mold/cast

     If a mold or cast has been taken, the label is given. If a remark needs to be added, e.g., about any difficulty in obtaining the mold or any particular caution that was observed during the procedure, it is entered as a local note.

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N5 – reference to laboratory report

     A text file that discusses in detail any other aspect of the conservation process and that might not fit the roster slots given above.

6.19 Analogical record

     Photographs and drawings are referents that describe a given constituent in an analogical mode, i.e., in ways that produce a full rendering of the constituent in question above and beyond the analytical breakdown that has been obtained in the early part of the record (and had been described in the roster so far).

     Typically, drawings provide an extrapolation of measurements, i.e., they serve as an analogical equivalent of a set of measurements.

     High resolution, three-dimensional, metrical photographs go one step beyond, in that the analogical record matches perfectly the analytical record, with regard at least to a certain set of categories, in particular measurements and color.

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O0 !! – templates

     For view entries, this slot records the template

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O1 !! – views

     For element entries, this roster slot records the view that includes any given element.

     For views entries, this slot records the secondary views available.

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O2 !! – photos

     This slot includes photos of items taken in the studio, after cleaning or any other treatment.

O3 !! – drawings

O4 !! ­– plots

O5 !! ­– schematic drawings

     These slot include measured drawings, Autocad plots and schematic drawings available for any given element.

O11 ga – view of aggregate

O12 gf – view of features

O13 gi – view of item

O14 gq – view of lot

O15 gk – view of locus

O16 – view of marker

O17 – view of relay

l ist of individual labels referring to the specified type of elements. These variables are applicable for views only. The letter “g” in the mnemonic code stands for “graphic.”

     Fixed Format. In each case, only one or more labels are given, separated by commas. The labels consist of digit only (e.g., 2, not f2)

O18 gm – view: miscellaneous

O19 - subviews

     A list of subviews, defining the web for a given primary view.

     Fixed Format. Only digits with pertinent suffix is given (e.g., 2a, not v2a).

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O21 gr – view range

     This slot defines the relationship of secondary views to the main view. If the main view is a doorway, then (in an inverse zoom sequence) a far shot would include the whole room, a wide view would include the walls on either side, a medium view would include the doorway proper (in practice, this is an alternative of the main view, as when a different angle is shown), a tight view would include the area just within the doorway, and a close-up a detail.

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O22 go – view orientation

     The direction towards which the camera is pointing.

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O23 ph – general notes on photos

     Photos may require particular qualifications, e.g. when one wants to explain why a photo of poor filmic quality is retained (say, because it shows a given detail that has not been recorded elsewhere).

     Note that a general description of the view is reserved for slot B11.

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O30 – other analogical record

     This slot refers to a variety of other analogical renderings of any given element, besides photographs and drawings (and also besides molds and casts, for which see above, N4), for example holographs, wood maquettes, etc.

6.20 Disposition

     Disposition refers to what happens finally to any given element after it has been excavated. This category completes the process of recording for the elements viewed in their physical reality, and facilitates any further study.

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P1 rd – removed, discarded, missing

     A feature may be removed, and an item or q-lot may be intentionally discarded: these choices are recorded here. For instance, q-lots that have been analyzed are discarded, clay lumps that had been conserved for consideration as possible sealings are also discarded, as are stones that are not worked and do not present any particular interest as specimens.

     As a result of the “audit” which monitors the overall recording process, it may also be determined that a given item or q-lot is missing, and this is also recorded here. Ideally, then, everything that has been initially recorded, will be accounted for in the record.

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P2 zs – storage

     At the end of the season, complete or otherwise important objects are brought to the Museum, but all other items and q-lots are kept in the house for future controls and study. This variable is then particularly important as it allows future typological study of any recorded element, even the most modest, to be conducted regularly on the basis of the original material itself.

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P3 zt ­– sequential transmittal number to the Museum

     Objects brought to the Museum are listed sequentially, and that number is given here. This entry also serves as an interim record of the very fact of transmittal, until the official Museum number is made available to us for entry in the Global Record.

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P4 – Museum number

     When available, the official museum number is entered here. This facilitates the study of the original materials in their new permanent setting.

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P5 – laboratory number

     Remote laboratories generally have their own accession number: this is entered here for ease of cross-reference.

6.21 Publications and Files

     Parallel to disposition, publication completes the process of recording for elements viewed in their conceptual reality. This category is the equivalent of a set of indices for internal cross-reference.

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Q1 tf – reference to text files

     Text files are internal components of the Global Record in the sense that they are available in the same electronic medium, even though they are quite distinct in that they do not fit within a roster/lexicon system. Whenever an element is mentioned in a text file, reference ought to be given here.

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Q2 – typological data bases

     The logic of the system, which aims for total integration of the analytical definition of each element, discourages the use of any other commercial data base. Should, however, any such data base be employed (on an interim base, or because of greater familiarity with that particular system, e.g., Excel), then an internal cross-reference ought to be given here.

     It must be noted, however, that once the data are fully integrated in the Global Record with its emphasis on the ASCII format (see below, 36.4), utilization of the archive with external programs is not only encouraged, but expected.

     The same goes for meta-data banks such as the one being coordinated by Etana.

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Q3 – project publications

     Official project publications are cross-referenced here. Note that the main entry is A6, where the sequential number of the element in question is given. In the current entry (Q3), only those references are given where a certain element is discussed outside of it original publication place. In other words, this entry serves the purpose of a thorough, general index to all references to a given element within the official publications of the project.

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Q4 – other publications

     Parallel to Q3, slot Q4 provides an index for references to elements from our excavations as mentioned in literature outside of the official reports of the expedition. Obviously, this is selective, and conditioned by our own ability in keeping up-to-date such an external source of information.

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6.22 Alphabetical list of mnemonic codes

     For the sake of convenience,I give here an alphabetical list of all the mnemonic codes used in the roster.

=l    A1    equals other label

>a    G2    elements (included within aggregate)

>l    A2    includes other label

>s    I2    features contained within stratum

ac    C6    accidents

ar    C3    argument

bo    F1    boundaries

c#    K6    color number (Munsell)

ca    J9    capacity

cl    D8    constituent label to which relay applies

cn    K10    condition

co    K5    color

cp    K1    components (within element)

de    K9    decoration

df    B10    definition (typological label)

di    K2    distribution (of components within element)

ds    B11    description (summary)

dy    C1    daily notes

el    D6    elevation

ga    O11    view of aggregate

gf    O12    view of features

gi    O13    view of item

gk    O15    view of locus

gm    O16    view: miscellaneous

go    O22    view orientation

gq    O14    view of lot

gr    O21    view range

hd    K7    hardness, compaction

ht    J1    height

i1    K12    iconographic definition: generic

i2    K13    iconographic description: specific (scene)

in    E2    inclination

ip    K17    inscription

lc    D1    locus

lg    J2    length

lv    D2    level

mm    D10    method of measurement

na    E99    notes on axial definition

nb    K92    notes on (animal) bones

nc    F99    notes on contact association

nd    B99    notes on designation and count

nf    M99    notes on function

ni    K90    notes on items

nl    A99    notes on labeling

nm    J99    notes on measurement

np    K91    notes on pottery

nq    B22    notes on quantity

nr    C99    notes on recovery

ns    I99    notes on time sequencing

nt    K99    notes on typology

nv    D99    notes on volumetric localization

o#    A4    other field number

o1    D11    origin of tie 1

o2    D12    origin of tie 2

oe    D13    origin of elevation

op    C5    options (alternatives)

or    E3    orientation

ph    O23    general notes on photos

pr    C4    procedures

pv    K11    preservation

qc    B20    quantity of components

rd    P1    removed, discarded, missing

rf    D7    relay definition

rl    D9    relay location on element

ro    E4    rotation

rp    D19    reference to plans, drawings, sections (W-files)

rw    J10    reference to drawing (W files)

sc    K14    iconographic description

sg    C2    strategy (projected or implemented)

sh    K4    shape, form

sl    E1    slope

sp    A5    typological specific label

st    K15    style

sz    J6    size, other

t1    D14    tie 1

t2    D15    tie 2

tc    F2    of contact

te    D16    tie to elevation

tf    Q1    reference to text files

th    J7    thickness

tx    K8    texture, surface finish

ty    K16    type

w1    J3    width 1 or diameter of rim

w2    J4    width 2 or diameter of body

w3    J5    width 3 or diameter of base

wm    K3    ware or material

wt    J8    weight

zs    P2    storage

zt    P3    sequential transmittal number to the Museum

6.23 A note on the practical use of the roster

     The roster as presented here has a double function. First, it outlines the logical structure of the attributes that, taken together, define the properties of any given element. Second, it serves as a guide for the input of observations in the field.

     Some of the specifications given above, in particular with regard to format, pertain properly only to the second function, and as such they should be found in Part Three of this grammar. They are, however, included here merely as a matter of practicality.