The process of construction of an ancient building can be broken down into a series of steps, and analyzed using tools such as the chaîne opératoire. This powerful methodology allows one to explore, in detail, the process of construction, allowing for a disarticulation of the process and leading thus to a more complete understanding.

Such a method, however, cannot, in and of itself, explore the ‘cost’ of each of the steps, in terms of time, resources and energy. Drawing from diverse ethnographic and textual material, one can derive sets of ‘algorithms’ that can help calculate these ‘costs’ – which in turn can help refine our understanding of broader concepts such as Monumentality or Prestige. This lecture aims at explaining a set of algorithms which were derived in order to analyze the 3rd millennium Palace at ancient Urkesh, modern Tell Mozan in Syria. The sources for some of these algorithms will be explained, with a discussion of the problems of applicability.