1: G. Buccellati, February 2003

Postulates and definitions

     In the conceptual framework of the Urkesh website I accept certain basic assumptions, or postulates, which I describe briefly here.
     I must begin with the very definition of archaeology, a concept that is of course behind our entire enterprise, but is not understood as uniformly as the ubiquitous use of the term might suggest.
     I will then consider a number of more general concepts. The first is the overriding assumption of a fundamental coherence in the world of data and of observations.
     From this follows that there is a valid measure of meaning in the world we uncover, and that we have the means to determine just such a measure.
     Meaning also entails attribution of value to elements of reality, through the establishment of parameters that are accepted within a given human community.
     The identification of meaning and value presupposes in turn that we are not prey to an invincible relativism, but rather that a measure of objectivity is possible - understood as the calibration of the subjective dimension of the observer vis-à-vis the data that can be observed objectively.
     The factuality of the observation thus emerges as the fundamental point of reference of the entire system, one that must be preserved in full and at all times.
     To be effective, observations must be inscribed in a categorization system that clearly identifies and describes specific and distinctive formal attributes. It is this aspect that guarantees a formal integrity to the system and therefore its full arguability.
     Beyond the formal definition of the elements, it is the recurrent clustering in specific distributional arrangements that validates our presumption of universality and uniformity. Such concept of distribution is the fundamental axiom on which rests our effort at establishing meaning, because it is the patterning that is assumed to be intentional.
     Another fundamental presupposition in the endeavor to answer these questions is the recognition of the universality and uniformity of perception: the data of material culture which we uncover were so emplaced as to suggest specific points of view from which fruition could best be gained - and this perception can be ours today.