Issue 368: Concept of inscription in the epigraphic sense

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Posted by Achille Felicetti on 27/3/2018
Dear all,
The scope notes of the E34 Inscription class state that it “comprises recognisable, short texts attached to instances of E24 Physical Man-Made Thing”. We need to make sure that this class is consistent enough with the concept of inscription in the epigraphic sense provided by CRMtex, so as not to risk incurring conceptual ambiguities.
In particular: although many inscriptions bear short texts, the brevity or length of an inscription is not among its main characteristics. In fact, there are inscriptions occupying entire walls (the Gortyn Law Code or the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, for example) and in any case the “short text” of the E34 class remains too vague. The E34 class also belongs to the conceptual objects which in turn are defined as “non-material products of our minds and other human produced data”, something that renders only in part the essence of an inscription, not taking into any account its “materiality” which is a fundamental component of its identity.
The study of epigraphy typically moves from the analysis of the physical features of inscriptions before getting to their archaeological, palaeographic, linguistic and historical characteristics. In this sense, an inscription intended only as a conceptual object does not seem to fully  capture the very nature of the inscription itself. Moreover, the etymology of the word “epigraph” indicates as a fundamental condition of its identity its being written on something. In all these ways it seems to present a much closer resemblance to the classes created for the description of physical features, and more specifically the E25 Man-Made Feature, which is also the superclass of the “TX1 Written Text” class defined in CRMtex.
Thus, we think that an harmonisation with the CIDOC CRM E34 Inscription (and, contextually, with its superclass “E37 Mark”) is needed and a redefinition of these classes would be desirable.