Art Histories
2015/ 2016

Federico Buccellati

Mesopotamian Palatial Architecture: A Study of Space and Authorship

Image of a 3D model of the AP Palace at Tell Mozan, ancient Urkesh, generated from 3D measurements of the archaeological record. Model created by Federico Buccellati.

is a Near Eastern Archaeologist whose research focuses on monumental architecture, communication, theory and technology. He participated for over 14 years in archaeological fieldwork at the Mozan/Urkesh Archaeological Project, and in the 2008-2010 seasons he was the field director of the project. After growing up in Los Angeles he went for a year to the Paris Lodron Universität in Salzburg, Austria to study Philosophy and German. That led to a BA from the Great Books College, St. John’s in Maryland, after which he moved to Germany to study Archaeology. After receiving a Magister in Near Eastern Archaeology and Philosophy from the Eberhard Karls Universität in Tübingen, Germany, he went on to get a PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology with a scholarship from the Research Training Group (Graduiertenkolleg) “Value and Equivalence” from the Goethe Universität in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. A grant-writing scholarship from the Research Training Group and a Seed Grant from the Goethe Universität followed.

Mesopotamian Palatial Architecture: A Study of Space and Authorship

Space, as an expression of the architectural volumes expressed in Mesopotamian palatial architecture, can seem an abstract, distant concept, visible but not understood, and lacking interaction. These volumes, however, carry a deeper meaning: they conditioned and were affected by the daily life of a civilization which is lost in a remote past. By analyzing these architectural spaces with a view towards understanding aspects of style and perception, one can go beyond mere ‘space’ as a volume to the familiarity of ‘place’—a deeper recognition and understanding of what a volume contains, beyond the merely spatial.The ‘space’ of an architectural volume is also an expression of one or more authors—not only the architect, but also the person commissioning the building as well as, over time, the audience or ‘users’ who adapt the building. Since, as archaeologists, the information at our disposal is limited to the material record of excavations, it is through the understanding of space (defined through style and perception) that we can attempt to outline these authors and their influence on the structure uncovered. To what extent can aspects of style and perception be explored in the context of 3rd millennium palatial architecture? How can stylistic traits aid us in understanding how the ancients interacted with their built environment? How can architecture help us see the imprint of the various authors who contributed to its construction?