SITE PRESENTATION \ 23A
1: G. Buccellati, August 2009


A chapter of the digital monograph: Site Presentation

The collections

The objects as autonomous entities
The objects in their context

The objects as autonomous entities

     Next to architecture and stratigraphy, there are the objects.
     Presentation of the objects is obviously as important as that of the site itself. In fact, object presentation has been privileged as over against that of sites. This is reflected in the fact that the antiquarian market assigns prices to objects, not to structures – which could hardly be otherwise, given the attendant logistic difficulties. But, unwittingly, it seems as though archaeologists follow suit since, to judge from the differential treatment accorded objects vis-à-vis structures when it comes to conservation and presentation, a much greater value (price) is placed on the former.
     It is generally viewed as the function of the Museum to preserve and present objects. The physical distance between sites and museums (except for occasional and limited site museums) encourages an attitude of "extrinsicism" whereby one views the Museum as the receptacle where movable items, extracted from their site collocation, are stored and presented. There, one will find a vast array of cross-references to the site, often elaborately and very effectively constructed. But it is all "distant" from the site. It is an intellectual as well as a physical distance.
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The objects in their context

     In the case of Mozan, I am pursuing three parallel avenues.
     As part of the on site itinerary, ample room is given to the contextualization of objects, both in the "panoramas" and in the "footnotes." This is achieved through photographs of the items, which are explained in their typological but especially in their stratigraphic import. Both photographs and descriptions are meant to elicit in the visitor the desire to see the actual object, and thus to go to the Museum. But they are especially intended to bring out very clearly the significance of the original emplacement and of the inferences we can draw as to deposition.
     Second, the totality of the items recovered, and not only the ones stored in the Museum, should remain accessible for viewing and for research. This aspect is intimately linked with the question of storage.
     Finally, we plan to cooperate closely with the organization of materials in the new Hassaka Museum, with the close collaboration of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We will aim for a mirror image attitude to that which guides our approach to the site. While the site highlights the context and elicits the desire to view the original object in the Museum, so in the Museum we would highlight the typological qualities of the object and elicit the desire to see the original stratigraphic and environmental context.
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