Federico Buccellati

Tell Mozan / Urkesh Archaeological Project

MZ with rain   MZ school
The two 'faces' of Mozan -- the archaeological site and three generations of stakeholders.

During my many years as a collaborator in the ‘Tell Mozan/Urkesh Archaeological Project’ – most recently as Field Director – I developed my ability to work in a team as well as a broad skillset in all practical aspects of archaeological fieldwork. Despite the present difficulties in Syria, the Project and my involvement in it remain active, following local staff who document conditions, maintain conserved architecture and guide the local visitors who come to the site. My involvement also includes my own research as well as following a team of collaborators who are laying the groundwork for an eco-archaeological park centered around Tell Mozan.

Since 2010 the war in Syria has been such that excavations at the site of Tell Mozan have no longer been possible; work has, however, continued as the ‘Urkesh Extended Project’. As field director for the project and as Deputy Director of IIMAS, the research institute which supports the excavations, I follow 6 local staff members still working at the site in Syria, where they continue work on conservation, photographic documentation, ceramic statistics and the vectorizing of hand drawings.

This is a unique project, as our team is the only foreign mission continuously active on-site throughout this period of crisis, albeit remotely for non-Syrian staff. While excavation is not possible, our commitment to cultural heritage in time of war is an important statement of solidarity in addition to continuing a program of archaeological research. The project has resonated with colleagues, the media and funding agencies, and has lead to several important exhibitions, including one in Syria. The archival material from the site, including a wide range of elements of material culture and their stratigraphic contexts, is a treasure trove for research and teaching.