Giorgio Buccellati, a professor emeritus of history and Near Eastern languages and cultures and the founding director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, and Cotsen colleague Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati have been honored in a recent publication for their many years of work and scholarship.

The long, distinguished and prolific careers of the couple were highlighted in a volume of studies, “Between Syria and the Highlands,” written by 51 scholars from universities and research centers around the world. 

“[The Buccellatis] are the scholarly giants on which next and future generations of archaeologists stand,” wrote Willeke Wendrich, director of the Cotsen Institute, in her contribution to the volume. “Most importantly, they treat the people with whom they work as members of an extended family: their American, Italian, and Syrian students; the women of the villages around Mozan; and their close colleagues in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, as well as the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, of which Giorgio was the founding father and Marilyn, the ever-present mother.”

Buccellati’s research interests include the ancient languages, the literature, the religion, the archaeology and the history of Mesopotamia, as well as the theory of archaeology. He has published a structural grammar of ancient Babylonian, two volumes on Mesopotamian civilization (on religion and poetry; two more are forthcoming on literature and art and architecture), a volume on archaeological theory dealing with the structural, digital and philosophical aspects of the archaeological record. As a Guggenheim Fellow, he has traveled to Syria to study modern ethnography and geography for a better understanding of the history of the ancient Amorites. In his field work, he has developed new approaches to the preservation and presentation of archaeological sites and to community archaeology. He has spearheaded the Urkesh Extended Project, responding to the crisis of the war in Syria by maintaining a very active presence at the site.

Toghether the couple work closely both in the field and on the publication reports from their excavations, of which five volumes, plus audio-visual presentations, have appeared so far. They have given joint lectures on the excavations, and workshops on methods used, at major archaeological centers around the world. They have served as visiting professors in various European universities.

They both served as directors of the archaeological expedition to Tell Mozan in northeastern Syria. Kelly-Buccellati is professor emerita of archaeology and art history at Cal State Los Angeles.

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