Cybernetica Mesopotamica

A Balzan Foundation Research Project

III. The goals

Printed venues

Giorgio Buccellati – April 2023

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Digital and printed venues

While the main goal of our project pertains to the digital dimension, a number of parallel non-digital venues are also open.

The major items we have currently in mind are as follows. More will of course emerge as the project progresses.

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Books with a corresponding website

  1. Giorgio Buccellati, Urkesh Beyond Urkesh. Conservation and Cultural Heritage.
         This will come as the result of a period in residence at the Getty Conservation Institute in the winter of 2024. It will provide: (a) an in depth presentation of the "philosophy" that underlies our porject; (b) a brief history explaining how the project evolved; (c) an exhaustive documentation of the technical aspects of conservation; (d) an overview of the major cultural heritage initiatives, especially those that developed during the war period since 2011.
    The major corresponding website is
  2. Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati, Urkesh Ceramics
         A comprehensive analysis of the ceramic typology designed for the Urkesh project, with a statement of the principles underlying the system and a detailed presentation of the roster and lexicon used. The book will also give a broad overview of the major examples from the corpus.
  3. Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati, Urkesh Glyptics
         Urkesh glyptic iconography is very distinctive, especially in the third millennium horizons, and has been extensively published in a number of articles. This volume will bring together this rich corpus, and will articulate in detail the criteria that underly the full process of iconographic analysis.
  4. Arwa Kharobi, Urkesh Burials
  5. Yasmine Mahmoud, Urkesh Human Figurines

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Books without a corresponding website

  1. Giorgio Buccellati (ed.), Digital Discourse. A View from the Field.
         The goal of the volume is to show how the notion of digital discourse is actually taking shape concretely in the work we are all doing on the project. The concept was highlighted in the acceptance speech of the Balzan Prize in Bern, and G. Buccellati and M. Kelly-Buccellati have written about in several articles. The contributors are asked to study these articles closely, and think of how it can apply to the specific research they are currently doing on our project.
         They should also "read" it serves as an introduction to our whole project. Sometime in the summer, should also open, which will provide an extensive presentation of the concept.
         Contributions need not be long, but should really aim to show the impact that the concept has on "writing" a website, and thus on "reading" it. We plan to have a virtual seminar in May 2023 and an in presence seminar in September 2023 when we will discuss the individual topics for each chapter.
  2. Federico Buccellati (ed.) Cloves and Paleobotany, Scarabs and Beads, Plaques and Figurines
         The book is dedicated to small finds, two of which, the cloves and the scarabs, are of particular importance.
         The cloves are, indeed, a very small find which, for all its diminutive size and lack of spectacularity, is of great import for its historical implications. It has also been cited often on the basis of our preliminary reports. It is published here in full, with regard to botanical analysis (K.F. Galvin) and stratigraphic setting (G. Buccellati). The rest of the botanical samples are also published.
         A small group of scarabs sheds light on wide range connections in the early second millennium (A. Ahrens). They were found together with a large group of beads in a cache stored next to the altar in the cella of the Temple of Ninkarrak (M. Stancavage).
         The figurines (G. Areshian) and plaques (M. Kelly-Buccellati) shed light on a dimension of everyday life that is particularly well documented at Terqa, both typologically and stratigraphically. A detailed publication of the documentary evidence includes an analysis of their functional and stylistic peculiarities.
  3. Giorgio Buccellati and Mary Stancavage (eds.), Cornerstone and Necromancy: Biblical Implications from the Excavations of a Third Millennium Hurrian City, Urkesh.
         The first chapter, "Was the Biblical Cornerstone a Benchmark?" by Dr. Stephen M. Hughey, reviews several diverse interpretations of the biblical cornerstone and proposes a new one: that the themes in both its Old Testament and New Testament contexts are those befitting an ancient benchmark monument. An ancient benchmark, with its attending implications of vertical spatial control, authenticity, and royal responsibility for safety and structural integrity, makes very good sense of the otherwise enigmatic features of this two-thousand-year-old metaphoric puzzle. This article is being readied for review.
         The second chapter, "An Architect's Master Plan" by Giorgio Buccellati, offers an in-depth examination of a particular tablet, A15.321, excavated at Urkesh and presumably showing the plans for part of the nearby palace. Its place in the Urkesh environment is discussed as well as the larger questions of awareness of the entire building process and all its implications, so easily lost when looking at something static like a benchmark or cornerstone. All of this is particularly significant for an appreciation of the metaphor that is very prominent in the biblical context.
         The third chapter, "The ābi: A Documentary Presentation of the Urkesh Necromantic Shaft" by Mary Stancavage, gives the basic stratigraphic and typological history of excavations at A12, which has been interpreted as the place where rituals were conducted for the evocation of the spirits of the Netherworld, something which is echoed in the biblical episode of the "Lady of the Ob" at Endor.

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Collectanea Urkeshiana

We plan to collect the most significant articles published over the years by various members of the staff on different aspects of the excavations and the major categories of objects and samples. They will serve as a firm point of reference for the history of the documentation and the interpretation of the finds.

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Following our tradition of extensive communication of our results in journals and collective volumes, we will produce a number of articles dealing with specific aspects of the project. We will in general favor publications that allow for open access distribution immediately upon publication. They will all appear in the appropriate

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Lectures and conferences

In recent years, we have begun to present the project at various scholarly conferences, and have organized some symposia specifically dedicated to it. We will expand this activity, especially encouraging and enabling the younger members of our staff to take part in this program. Further details in the dedicated

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In house reports

Very detailed and extensive in-house reports are being produced to cover special meetings and seminars undertaken by various members of our staff.

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