Tell Atchana (ancient Alalakh) was an important Bronze Age city, located in the 'Amuq plain of Southern Turkey, near the mouth of the Orontes River. Capital of the ancient Bronze Age kingdom of Mukish, Alalakh had a chequered history, first as a vassal to the Kingdom of Yamhad, and then serving the Mitannian and Hittite empires in turn. Cuneiform archives discovered at the site have helped place Alalakh in its geopolitical and economic context, but it is the archaeological remains that hold the key to understanding the cultural impact of regional politics on its people. Excavated between 1937 and 1949 by British Archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley, the archaeological legacy of this intriguing site is now split between a number of different museums worldwide, while its photographic and documentary archives form part of the Institute of Archaeology collections archive (Special Collections UCLCA/IA/A/34).
Digitisation and online publication is one means for lessening the physical divide caused by these kinds of colonial archaeologies, opening up a rich store of data to a worldwide audience. The Silent Witness: Tracing Artefacts from Tell Atchana project aims to do this for some of the original field records — the object and pottery catalogue cards. An important source of information for researchers, the sometimes unfamiliar terminology, conventions, and hard-to-read handwriting can make these cards challenging to use. We aim to break through these barriers by turning the information in these records into easily-understood typed text, and extracting searchable metadata that will help widen access.
We want your help to transcribe information from the excavation field records into a series of online fields. Each card will be transcribed by two separate contributors, and the results cross-checked to ensure accurate and consistent results. Your work will then become part of a set of research tools offered by the Institute of Archaeology to the wider academic community.