EDUCATION \ SITE PRESENTATION \ 23i
1: G. Buccellati, July 2009

The itinerary as narrative

The narrative
The impact
The narrative as dialogue
The flyers
The signage
The signposts

The narrative

     The proposal of an itinerary, marked by a path, is obviously nothing new. There is, nonetheless, a particular aspect to which I have given special attention – the sequence of stops along the itinerary conceived as a story line. What I seek to develop is a central narrative theme that blends the physical reality of monuments and stratigraphy with the organized intellectual construct within which the evidence acquires meaning.
     The central theme in the narrative is the urban landscape of ancient Urkesh, as seen specifically in the interaction of Temple and Palace. I try to convey the sense of what the perception of the overall space would have been, not only in terms of the aesthetic fruition of the monumental complex as such, but also in terms of the psychological impact that it would have elicited.
     An important parallel theme is in the explanation of the transformative processes that shaped different modes of space organization over some two millennia. These are seen against the firm coherence of the Temple as the sacral fulcrum around which the transformations pivot.
     Just as significant is the other parallel theme that aims at explaining the nature of the archaeological argument on which the conclusions about perception and chronology are based.
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The impact

     The results have been gratifying. Casual visitors are gripped by the sequential nature of the exposition. On the one hand, there are anticipations that elicit expectation for things to appear as one walks on. On the other, there are flash backs to points that have been already proposed and which are newly illumined by the new evidence proposed in the subsequent stops.
     More sophisticated visitors are given tools for appreciating the larger coherence of the site, in ways that no other publication makes possible.
     The aim of the written material posted at the site is to provide information for visitors who come when the Expedition is not in residence. But signs have also become the standard point of reference for guided visits, when the text is not necessarily read aloud, but the topics addressed and the visuals provided serve as the basic support for the oral explanation.
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The narrative as dialogue

     An underlying factor through which I seek to elicit the interest of the visitors is to think of the texts as an ongoing dialog with an interlocutor. We can both anticipate and elicit questions, and in so doing a certain dynamics develops which makes the narrative, held over the entire span of the itinerary, more alive and rewarding. The very beauty of the setting (both the ancient built environment and the pristine landscape which still envelops it today) contributes to this dynamics, providing as if a stage for a unfolding dramatic action.
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The flyers

     The itinerary I marked in the ground with gravel paths is listed in a simple one page flyer. This is in effect the thread of the narrative. The list of titles of the individual stops or stations provides orientation as one walks along. There is also a brief text of welcome and introduction, and a simple chronological chart.
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The signage

     The narrative proper is developed through a series of signs that are as distinct in appearance as they are in function. Taken together, they support the unfolding of the narrative in two ways.
     On the one hand, they are placed sequentially so as to underscore the sense of continuity. They act, one might say, as hyperlinks on a website: they call attention to what has already been seen and to what is going to come later. This, too, underscores the continuity by creating expectation and refelction.
     On the other, the nature of the texts, matched by the diverse appearance of the signs, caters to different levels of interest.
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The signposts

     The table of contents, as it were, is provided by the signposts. As an overview, I reproduce, in what follows, the text of the fourteen signposts currently posted at the site. (For the physical aspect of the signposts see under technical details.)
     The translation into Arabic is by Rasha Endari with the assistance of Yasmine Mahmoud.
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1-5. The Temple Terrace

Download set of five (PDF 200 KB)
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6-10. The Palace

Download set of five (PDF 230 KB)
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11-14. The later periods

Download set of four (PDF 170 KB)
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