1: G. Buccellati, February 2003


     The first aim of the Urkesh website is to serve as an exhaustive tool of archaeological documentation and analysis for the scholars.
     But a second, major aim is also to serve as a comprehensive vehicle of communication and education for the broader public. I trust that a study of the website will show how the two aims are not incompatible.
     I have conceived of the dual approach along parallel lines. (1) On the one hand, individual sections are primarily addressed to discrete categories of readers. Thus the first four section (OVERVIEW, PROJECT, WEBSITE and EDUCATION are of general interest, while the others are aimed specifically to the scholars (see the brief review in the Outline).
     (2) On the other hand, in the firm belief that culture is a continuum and that a website provides the best means for affirming such continuity, the material in the technical sections is graduated in such a way that an interested reader might venture farther in scholarly territory than would normally be the case.
     Thus for example the introduction to the section on Interpretation seeks to elicit everyone's interest in assessing the difficulty, and the need, of seeking meaning in what remains otherwise mute evidence. One of the areas where “decipherment” of meaning is emblematic (“paradigmatic”) is that of the languages spoken and written in Urkesh: this section conveys greater detail, but can still be followed without specific philological competence. Such competence is instead required in the section on actual texts, such as the royal inscriptions, where the cuneiform and various renderings of it are given, with a biliographical apparatus.
     In the three examples just cited, the level of difficuty is intimated by the graphic rendering, from a larger brown font to a smaller black font. But even in the last section, the philological edition of the texts, there are aspects of the presentation that are addressed to all readers in spite of its technicality, such as the photographs of the documents or the translation of the texts.
     And there is then the effort to bring to life even aspects of the documentation that may seem at first too narrowly specialized, but have instead a significant evocative effect – such as the sound of ancient languages as we, the scholars, feel it can be reconstructed.

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