Volume A:

Definition of the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model

 

 

 

 

 

Produced by the CIDOC CRM

Special Interest Group

 

 

 

 

Version 7.1.2

 

June 2022

 

 

 

 

Editors: Chryssoula Bekiari, George Bruseker, Erin Canning, Martin Doerr,
Philippe Michon, Christian-Emil Ore, Stephen Stead, Athanasios Velios

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CC BY 4.0  2022 Individual Contributors to CIDOC CRM 7.1.2

 

This page is left blank on purpose


 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction............................................................................................................................................................................................. 9

Objectives of the CIDOC CRM.................................................................................................................................................... 9

Scope of the CIDOC CRM.......................................................................................................................................................... 10

Compatibility with the CIDOC CRM........................................................................................................................................ 11

Terminology.................................................................................................................................................................................... 11

Applied Form................................................................................................................................................................................. 19

Naming Conventions................................................................................................................................................... 20

Inheritance and Transitivity........................................................................................................................................ 21

Shortcuts......................................................................................................................................................................... 21

About the logical expressions used in the CIDOC CRM...................................................................................... 21

Property Quantifiers..................................................................................................................................................... 23

Modelling principles........................................................................................................................................................................... 25

Reality, Knowledge Bases and CIDOC CRM.......................................................................................................................... 25

Authorship of Knowledge Base Contents................................................................................................................................. 26

Extensions of CIDOC CRM........................................................................................................................................................ 27

Minimality...................................................................................................................................................................................... 29

Monotonicity.................................................................................................................................................................................. 29

Disjointness.................................................................................................................................................................................... 31

Introduction to the basic concepts..................................................................................................................................................... 33

Relations with Events................................................................................................................................................................... 34

Spatial Relations........................................................................................................................................................... 37

Temporal Relations...................................................................................................................................................... 39

Spatiotemporal Relations............................................................................................................................................ 40

Specific Modelling Constructs.................................................................................................................................................... 42

About Types................................................................................................................................................................... 42

Temporal Relation Primitives based on fuzzy boundaries.................................................................................... 43

Class & Property Hierarchies............................................................................................................................................................ 47

CIDOC CRM Class Hierarchy.................................................................................................................................................... 48

CIDOC CRM Property Hierarchy.............................................................................................................................................. 51

CIDOC CRM Properties of Properties (.1 Properties)........................................................................................... 54

CIDOC CRM Class Declarations...................................................................................................................................................... 56

E1 CRM Entity.............................................................................................................................................................................. 57

E2 Temporal Entity....................................................................................................................................................................... 57

E3 Condition State........................................................................................................................................................................ 58

E4 Period......................................................................................................................................................................................... 59

E5 Event.......................................................................................................................................................................................... 61

E6 Destruction................................................................................................................................................................................ 62

E7 Activity...................................................................................................................................................................................... 63

E8 Acquisition................................................................................................................................................................................ 64

E9 Move.......................................................................................................................................................................................... 65

E10 Transfer of Custody.............................................................................................................................................................. 65

E11 Modification........................................................................................................................................................................... 66

E12 Production............................................................................................................................................................................... 67

E13 Attribute Assignment............................................................................................................................................................ 68

E14 Condition Assessment.......................................................................................................................................................... 69

E15 Identifier Assignment........................................................................................................................................................... 69

E16 Measurement.......................................................................................................................................................................... 70

E17 Type Assignment................................................................................................................................................................... 71

E18 Physical Thing....................................................................................................................................................................... 71

E19 Physical Object...................................................................................................................................................................... 72

E20 Biological Object................................................................................................................................................................... 73

E21 Person...................................................................................................................................................................................... 73

E22 Human-Made Object............................................................................................................................................................ 74

E24 Physical Human-Made Thing.............................................................................................................................................. 74

E25 Human-Made Feature........................................................................................................................................................... 75

E26 Physical Feature..................................................................................................................................................................... 76

E27 Site........................................................................................................................................................................................... 77

E28 Conceptual Object................................................................................................................................................................. 77

E29 Design or Procedure............................................................................................................................................................. 78

E30 Right........................................................................................................................................................................................ 79

E31 Document................................................................................................................................................................................ 79

E32 Authority Document............................................................................................................................................................. 80

E33 Linguistic Object................................................................................................................................................................... 80

E34 Inscription............................................................................................................................................................................... 81

E35 Title.......................................................................................................................................................................................... 81

E36 Visual Item.............................................................................................................................................................................. 82

E37 Mark........................................................................................................................................................................................ 83

E39 Actor........................................................................................................................................................................................ 83

E41 Appellation............................................................................................................................................................................. 84

E42 Identifier................................................................................................................................................................................. 85

E52 Time-Span............................................................................................................................................................................... 86

E53 Place........................................................................................................................................................................................ 87

E54 Dimension............................................................................................................................................................................... 88

E55 Type......................................................................................................................................................................................... 89

E56 Language................................................................................................................................................................................. 89

E57 Material................................................................................................................................................................................... 90

E58 Measurement Unit................................................................................................................................................................. 90

E59 Primitive Value...................................................................................................................................................................... 91

E60 Number................................................................................................................................................................................... 92

E61 Time Primitive....................................................................................................................................................................... 92

E62 String....................................................................................................................................................................................... 93

E63 Beginning of Existence........................................................................................................................................................ 93

E64 End of Existence.................................................................................................................................................................... 94

E65 Creation................................................................................................................................................................................... 95

E66 Formation................................................................................................................................................................................ 95

E67 Birth......................................................................................................................................................................................... 96

E68 Dissolution.............................................................................................................................................................................. 96

E69 Death....................................................................................................................................................................................... 96

E70 Thing........................................................................................................................................................................................ 97

E71 Human-Made Thing.............................................................................................................................................................. 97

E72 Legal Object........................................................................................................................................................................... 98

E73 Information Object................................................................................................................................................................ 98

E74 Group....................................................................................................................................................................................... 99

E77 Persistent Item..................................................................................................................................................................... 100

E78 Curated Holding.................................................................................................................................................................. 101

E79 Part Addition........................................................................................................................................................................ 102

E80 Part Removal....................................................................................................................................................................... 103

E81 Transformation.................................................................................................................................................................... 103

E83 Type Creation....................................................................................................................................................................... 104

E85 Joining................................................................................................................................................................................... 105

E86 Leaving................................................................................................................................................................................. 105

E87 Curation Activity................................................................................................................................................................. 106

E89 Propositional Object........................................................................................................................................................... 106

E90 Symbolic Object.................................................................................................................................................................. 107

E92 Spacetime Volume.............................................................................................................................................................. 108

E93 Presence................................................................................................................................................................................ 109

E94 Space Primitive................................................................................................................................................................... 109

E95 Spacetime Primitive............................................................................................................................................................ 110

E96 Purchase................................................................................................................................................................................ 111

E97 Monetary Amount............................................................................................................................................................... 112

E98 Currency................................................................................................................................................................................ 112

E99 Product Type........................................................................................................................................................................ 113

CIDOC CRM Property Declarations.............................................................................................................................................. 114

P1 is identified by (identifies)................................................................................................................................................... 115

P2 has type (is type of)............................................................................................................................................................... 116

P3 has note.................................................................................................................................................................................... 116

P4 has time-span (is time-span of)........................................................................................................................................... 117

P5 consists of (forms part of).................................................................................................................................................... 118

P7 took place at (witnessed)...................................................................................................................................................... 118

P8 took place on or within (witnessed).................................................................................................................................... 119

P9 consists of (forms part of).................................................................................................................................................... 120

P10 falls within (contains)......................................................................................................................................................... 120

P11 had participant (participated in)........................................................................................................................................ 121

P12 occurred in the presence of (was present at).................................................................................................................. 122

P13 destroyed (was destroyed by)............................................................................................................................................ 122

P14 carried out by (performed)................................................................................................................................................. 123

P15 was influenced by (influenced)......................................................................................................................................... 124

P16 used specific object (was used for).................................................................................................................................. 124

P17 was motivated by (motivated)........................................................................................................................................... 125

P19 was intended use of (was made for):............................................................................................................................... 126

P20 had specific purpose (was purpose of)............................................................................................................................ 126

P21 had general purpose (was purpose of)............................................................................................................................. 127

P22 transferred title to (acquired title through)...................................................................................................................... 127

P23 transferred title from (surrendered title through)........................................................................................................... 128

P24 transferred title of (changed ownership through).......................................................................................................... 128

P25 moved (moved by).............................................................................................................................................................. 129

P26 moved to (was destination of)........................................................................................................................................... 129

P27 moved from (was origin of)............................................................................................................................................... 130

P28 custody surrendered by (surrendered custody through)............................................................................................... 131

P29 custody received by (received custody through)........................................................................................................... 131

P30 transferred custody of (custody transferred through).................................................................................................... 132

P31 has modified (was modified by)....................................................................................................................................... 132

P32 used general technique (was technique of)..................................................................................................................... 133

P33 used specific technique (was used by)............................................................................................................................. 134

P34 concerned (was assessed by)............................................................................................................................................. 134

P35 has identified (was identified by)..................................................................................................................................... 135

P37 assigned (was assigned by)................................................................................................................................................ 135

P38 deassigned (was deassigned by)....................................................................................................................................... 136

P39 measured (was measured by)............................................................................................................................................ 137

P40 observed dimension (was observed in)........................................................................................................................... 137

P41 classified (was classified by)............................................................................................................................................. 138

P42 assigned (was assigned by)................................................................................................................................................ 139

P43 has dimension (is dimension of)....................................................................................................................................... 139

P44 has condition (is condition of).......................................................................................................................................... 140

P45 consists of (is incorporated in).......................................................................................................................................... 140

P46 is composed of (forms part of).......................................................................................................................................... 141

P48 has preferred identifier (is preferred identifier of)........................................................................................................ 142

P49 has former or current keeper (is former or current keeper of)..................................................................................... 142

P50 has current keeper (is current keeper of)......................................................................................................................... 143

P51 has former or current owner (is former or current owner of)...................................................................................... 144

P52 has current owner (is current owner of).......................................................................................................................... 144

P53 has former or current location (is former or current location of)................................................................................ 145

P54 has current permanent location (is current permanent location of)............................................................................ 146

P55 has current location (currently holds).............................................................................................................................. 146

P56 bears feature (is found on)................................................................................................................................................. 147

P57 has number of parts............................................................................................................................................................. 148

P59 has section (is located on or within)................................................................................................................................ 148

P62 depicts (is depicted by)....................................................................................................................................................... 149

P65 shows visual item (is shown by)....................................................................................................................................... 150

P67 refers to (is referred to by)................................................................................................................................................. 150

P68 foresees use of (use foreseen by)...................................................................................................................................... 151

P69 has association with (is associated with)......................................................................................................................... 152

P70 documents (is documented in).......................................................................................................................................... 153

P71 lists (is listed in).................................................................................................................................................................. 153

P72 has language (is language of)............................................................................................................................................ 154

P73 has translation (is translation of)...................................................................................................................................... 154

P74 has current or former residence (is current or former residence of)........................................................................... 155

P75 possesses (is possessed by)................................................................................................................................................ 155

P76 has contact point (provides access to)............................................................................................................................. 155

P79 beginning is qualified by.................................................................................................................................................... 156

P80 end is qualified by............................................................................................................................................................... 156

P81 ongoing throughout............................................................................................................................................................. 157

P82 at some time within............................................................................................................................................................. 158

P86 falls within (contains)......................................................................................................................................................... 158

P89 falls within (contains)......................................................................................................................................................... 159

P90 has value............................................................................................................................................................................... 159

P91 has unit (is unit of).............................................................................................................................................................. 160

P92 brought into existence (was brought into existence by)............................................................................................... 160

P93 took out of existence (was taken out of existence by).................................................................................................. 161

P94 has created (was created by).............................................................................................................................................. 162

P95 has formed (was formed by).............................................................................................................................................. 162

P96 by mother (gave birth)........................................................................................................................................................ 163

P97 from father (was father for)............................................................................................................................................... 163

P98 brought into life (was born)............................................................................................................................................... 164

P99 dissolved (was dissolved by)............................................................................................................................................. 164

P100 was death of (died in)....................................................................................................................................................... 165

P101 had as general use (was use of)...................................................................................................................................... 165

P102 has title (is title of)............................................................................................................................................................ 166

P103 was intended for (was intention of)............................................................................................................................... 167

P104 is subject to (applies to)................................................................................................................................................... 167

P105 right held by (has right on).............................................................................................................................................. 168

P106 is composed of (forms part of)....................................................................................................................................... 168

P107 has current or former member (is current or former member of)............................................................................. 169

P108 has produced (was produced by).................................................................................................................................... 170

P109 has current or former curator (is current or former curator of)................................................................................. 170

P110 augmented (was augmented by)..................................................................................................................................... 171

P111 added (was added by)....................................................................................................................................................... 171

P112 diminished (was diminished by)..................................................................................................................................... 172

P113 removed (was removed by)............................................................................................................................................. 172

P121 overlaps with...................................................................................................................................................................... 173

P122 borders with....................................................................................................................................................................... 174

P123 resulted in (resulted from)............................................................................................................................................... 174

P124 transformed (was transformed by)................................................................................................................................. 175

P125 used object of type (was type of object used in).......................................................................................................... 176

P126 employed (was employed in).......................................................................................................................................... 176

P127 has broader term (has narrower term)........................................................................................................................... 177

P128 carries (is carried by)........................................................................................................................................................ 177

P129 is about (is subject of)...................................................................................................................................................... 178

P130 shows features of (features are also found on)............................................................................................................. 178

P132 spatiotemporally overlaps with....................................................................................................................................... 179

P133 is spatiotemporally separated from................................................................................................................................ 180

P134 continued (was continued by)......................................................................................................................................... 181

P135 created type (was created by).......................................................................................................................................... 182

P136 was based on (supported type creation)........................................................................................................................ 182

P137 exemplifies (is exemplified by)...................................................................................................................................... 183

P138 represents (has representation)....................................................................................................................................... 183

P139 has alternative form (is alternative form of)................................................................................................................. 184

P140 assigned attribute to (was attributed by)....................................................................................................................... 185

P141 assigned (was assigned by)............................................................................................................................................. 186

P142 used constituent (was used in)........................................................................................................................................ 186

P143 joined (was joined by)...................................................................................................................................................... 187

P144 joined with (gained member by).................................................................................................................................... 188

P145 separated (left by)............................................................................................................................................................. 189

P146 separated from (lost member by)................................................................................................................................... 189

P147 curated (was curated by).................................................................................................................................................. 190

P148 has component (is component of).................................................................................................................................. 191

P150 defines typical parts of (defines typical wholes for)................................................................................................... 191

P151 was formed from (participated in)................................................................................................................................. 192

P152 has parent (is parent of)................................................................................................................................................... 192

P156 occupies (is occupied by)................................................................................................................................................ 193

P157 is at rest relative to (provides reference space for)..................................................................................................... 194

P160 has temporal projection (is temporal projection of).................................................................................................... 195

P161 has spatial projection (is spatial projection of)............................................................................................................ 195

P164 is temporally specified by (temporally specifies)....................................................................................................... 196

P165 incorporates (is incorporated in).................................................................................................................................... 197

P166 was a presence of (had presence)................................................................................................................................... 198

P167 was within (includes)....................................................................................................................................................... 198

P168 place is defined by (defines place)................................................................................................................................. 199

P169 defines spacetime volume (spacetime volume is defined by)................................................................................... 200

P170 defines time (time is defined by).................................................................................................................................... 200

P171 at some place within......................................................................................................................................................... 201

P172 contains............................................................................................................................................................................... 201

P173 starts before or with the end of (ends after or with the start of)................................................................................ 202

P174 starts before the end of (ends after the start of)........................................................................................................... 203

P175 starts before or with the start of (starts after or with the start of)............................................................................. 204

P176 starts before the start of (starts after the start of)......................................................................................................... 205

P177 assigned property of type (is type of property assigned)........................................................................................... 206

P179 had sales price (was sales price of)................................................................................................................................ 207

P180 has currency (was currency of)....................................................................................................................................... 208

P182 ends before or with the start of (starts after or with the end of)................................................................................ 208

P183 ends before the start of (starts after the end of)........................................................................................................... 209

P184 ends before or with the end of (ends with or after the end of).................................................................................. 210

P185 ends before the end of (ends after the end of).............................................................................................................. 211

P186 produced thing of product type (is produced by)........................................................................................................ 212

P187 has production plan (is production plan for)................................................................................................................ 213

P188 requires production tool (is production tool for)......................................................................................................... 213

P189 approximates (is approximated by)................................................................................................................................ 214

P190 has symbolic content........................................................................................................................................................ 215

P191 had duration (was duration of)........................................................................................................................................ 216

P195 was a presence of (had presence)................................................................................................................................... 216

P196 defines (is defined by)...................................................................................................................................................... 217

P197 covered parts of (was partially covered by)................................................................................................................. 217

P198 holds or supports (is held or supported by).................................................................................................................. 218

Works Cited........................................................................................................................................................................................ 220

Appendix............................................................................................................................................................................................. 230

Deprecated classes and properties............................................................................................................................................ 230

Deprecated Class Migration Instructions............................................................................................................... 230

Deprecated Property Migration Instructions......................................................................................................... 231

Amendments................................................................................................................................................................................ 233

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Table of Tables

 

Table 1: Symbolic Operators in First Order Logic Representation................................................................................ 22

Table 2: Temporal Relation Primitives................................................................................................................................ 46

Table 3: CIDOC CRM Class Hierarchy.............................................................................................................................. 48

Table 4: CIDOC CRM Property Hierarchy........................................................................................................................ 51

Table 5: CIDOC CRM Properties of Properties (.1 Properties) Hierarchy................................................................... 54

Table 6: Deprecated Class Migration Instructions.......................................................................................................... 230

Table 7: Deprecated Property Migration Instructions.................................................................................................... 231

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Figures

Figure 1:  High Level Properties and Classes of CIDOC CRM..................................................................................... 35

Figure 2: CIDOC CRM Encoding Example (Winkelmann seeing Laocoön).............................................................. 36

Figure 3: Symbolic Representation of "Winkelmann seeing Laocoön" as an Evolution in Space and Time......... 37

Figure 4: Basic CIDOC CRM Properties and Classes for Reasoning about Spatial Information............................ 38

Figure 5: Basic CIDOC CRM Properties and Classes for Reasoning about Temporal Information........................ 39

Figure 6: Basic CIDOC CRM Properties and Classes for Reasoning with Spacetime Volumes.............................. 41

Figure 7: Explanation of Interior and Boundary and an Example of Use from P174 starts before the end of (ends after the start of)..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 45

Figure 8: Temporal entity A starts before or with the end of temporal entity B. Here A is longer than B............ 202

Figure 9: Temporal entity A starts before or with the end of temporal entity B. Here A is shorter than B........... 203

Figure 10: Temporal entity A starts before the end of temporal entity B. Here A is longer than B....................... 204

Figure 11: Temporal entity A starts before the end of temporal entity B. Here A is shorter than B....................... 204

Figure 12: Temporal entity A starts before or with the start of temporal entity B. Here A is longer than B........ 205

Figure 13: Temporal entity A starts before or with the start of temporal entity B. Here A is shorter than B....... 205

Figure 14: Temporal entity A starts before the start of temporal entity B. Here A is longer than B...................... 206

Figure 15: Temporal entity A starts before the start of temporal entity B. Here A is shorter than B..................... 206

Figure 16: Temporal entity A ends before or with the start of temporal entity B. Here A is longer than B.......... 209

Figure 17: Temporal entity A ends before or with the start of temporal entity B. Here A is shorter than B......... 209

Figure 18: Temporal entity A ends before the start of temporal entity B. Here A is longer than B....................... 210

Figure 19: Temporal entity A ends before the start of temporal entity B. Here A is shorter than B...................... 210

Figure 20: Temporal entity A ends before or with the end of temporal entity B. Here A is longer than B........... 211

Figure 21: Temporal entity A ends before or with the end of temporal entity B. Here A is shorter than B.......... 211

Figure 22: Temporal entity A ends before the end of temporal entity B. Here A is longer than B......................... 212

Figure 23: Temporal entity A ends before the end of temporal entity B. Here A is shorter than B........................ 212

 

 

Introduction

This document is the formal definition of the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (“CIDOC CRM”), a formal ontology intended to facilitate the integration, mediation and interchange of heterogeneous cultural heritage information and similar information from other domains, as further detailed below. The CRM is the culmination of more than two decades of standards development work by the International Committee for Documentation (CIDOC) of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). Work on the CRM itself began in 1996 under the auspices of the ICOM-CIDOC Documentation Standards Working Group. Since 2000, development of the CRM has been officially delegated by ICOM-CIDOC to the CIDOC CRM Special Interest Group (SIG). The SIG, in turn, collaborates with the ISO working group ISO/TC46/SC4/WG9 to bring the CRM to the form and status of an International Standard. This set of collaborations has resulted in the production of ISO21127:2004 and ISO21127:2014, the ISO standard editions of the CIDOC CRM. This collaboration will be continued in order to support the next update of the ISO standard edition. The present document belongs to the series of evolving versions of the formal definition of the CRM, which serve the ISO working group as community draft for the standard. Eventual minor differences, in semantics and notation, of the ISO standard text from the present, community CIDOC CRM version, which the ISO working group requires and implements, will be harmonized in the subsequent versions of the present, community CIDOC CRM formal definition document.

Objectives of the CIDOC CRM

The primary role of the CIDOC CRM is to enable the exchange and integration of information from heterogeneous sources for the reconstruction and interpretation of the past at a human scale, based on all kinds of material evidence, including texts, audio-visual material and oral tradition. It starts from, but is not limited to, the needs of museum documentation and research based on museum holdings. It aims at providing the semantic definitions and clarifications needed to transform disparate, localised information sources into a coherent global resource, be it within a larger institution, in intranets or on the Internet, and to make it available for scholarly interpretation and scientific evaluation. These goals determine the constructs and level of detail of the CIDOC CRM.

More specifically, it defines, in terms of a formal ontology, the underlying semantics of database schemata and structured documents used in the documentation of cultural heritage and scientific activities. In particular it defines the semantics related to the study of the past and current state of our world, as it is characteristic for museums, but also or other cultural heritage institutions and disciplines. It does not define any of the terminology appearing typically as data in the respective data structures; it foresees, however, the characteristic relationships for its use. It does not aim at proposing what cultural heritage institutions should document. Rather, it explains the logic of what they actually currently document, and thereby enables semantic interoperability.

The CIDOC CRM intends, moreover, to provide a model of the intellectual structure of the respective kinds of mentioned documentation in logical terms. As such, it has not been optimised for implementation specific storage and processing factors. Actual system implementations may lead to solutions where elements and links between relevant elements of our conceptualizations are no longer explicit in a database or other structured storage system. For instance, the birth event that connects elements such as father, mother, birth date, birth place may not appear in the database, in order to save storage space or response time of the system. The CIDOC CRM provides a conceptual and technical means to explain how such apparently disparate entities are semantically and logically interconnected, and how the ability of the database to answer certain intellectual questions is affected by the omission of such elements and links.

The CIDOC CRM aims to support the following specific functionalities:

·     Inform developers of information systems as a guide to good practice in conceptual modelling, in order to effectively structure and relate information assets of cultural documentation.

·     Serve as a common language for domain experts and IT developers to formulate requirements and to agree on system functionalities with respect to the correct handling of cultural contents.

·     To serve as a formal language for the identification of common information contents in different data formats; in particular, to support the implementation of automatic data transformation algorithms from local to global data structures without loss of meaning. The latter being useful for data exchange, data migration from legacy systems, data information integration and mediation of heterogeneous sources.

·     To support associative queries against integrated resources by providing a global model of the basic classes and their associations to formulate such queries.

·     It is further believed that advanced natural language algorithms and case-specific heuristics can take significant advantage of the CIDOC CRM to resolve free text information into a formal logical form, if that is regarded beneficial. The CIDOC CRM is not thought, however, to be a means to replace scholarly text, rich in meaning, by logical forms, but only a means to identify related data.

Users of the CIDOC CRM should be aware that the definition of data entry systems requires support of community-specific terminology, guidance to what should be documented and in which sequence, and application-specific consistency controls. The CIDOC CRM does not provide such notions.

By its very structure and formalism, the CIDOC CRM is extensible and users are encouraged to create extensions for the needs of more specialized communities and applications.

Scope of the CIDOC CRM

The overall scope of the CIDOC CRM can be summarised in simple terms as the curated, factual knowledge about the past at a human scale.

However, a more detailed and useful definition can be articulated by defining both the Intended Scope, a broad and maximally-inclusive definition of general application principles, and the Practical Scope, which is expressed by the overall scope of a growing reference set of specific, identifiable documentation standards and practices that the CIDOC CRM aims to semantically describe, restricted, always, in its details to the limitations of the Intended Scope.

The reasons for these distinctions between Intended and Practical Scope are twofold. Firstly, the CIDOC CRM is developed in a “bottom-up” manner, starting from well-understood, actual, and widely used concepts of domain experts, which are disambiguated and gradually generalized as more forms of encoding are encountered. This aims to avoid the misadaptations and vagueness that can sometimes be found in introspection-driven attempts to find overarching concepts for such a wide scope, and provides stability to the generalizations found. Secondly, it is a means to identify and keep a focus on the concepts most needed by the communities working in the scope of the CIDOC CRM and to maintain a well-defined agenda for its evolution.

The Intended Scope of the CIDOC CRM may, therefore, be defined as all information required for the exchange and integration of heterogeneous scientific and scholarly documentation about the past at a human scale and the available documented and empirical evidence for this. This definition requires further elaboration:

·     The term “scientific and scholarly documentation” is intended to convey the requirement that the depth and quality of descriptive information that can be handled by the CIDOC CRM should be sufficient for serious academic research. This does not mean that information intended for presentation to members of the general public is excluded, but rather that the CRM is intended to provide the level of detail and precision expected and required by museum professionals and researchers in the field.

·     As “available documented and material evidence” are regarded all types of material collected and displayed by museums and related institutions, as defined by ICOM[1], and other collections, in-situ objects, sites, monuments and intangible heritage relating to fields such as social history, ethnography, archaeology, fine and applied arts, natural history, history of sciences and technology.


 

·     The concept “documentation” includes the detailed description of individual items, in situ or within collections, groups of items and collections as a whole, as well as practices of intangible heritage. It pertains to their current state as well as to information about their past. The CIDOC CRM is specifically intended to cover contextual information: the historical, geographical and theoretical background that gives cultural heritage collections much of their cultural significance and value.

·     The exchange of relevant information with libraries and archives, and the harmonisation of the CIDOC CRM with their models, falls within the Intended Scope of the CIDOC CRM.

·     Information required solely for the administration and management of cultural institutions, such as information relating to personnel, accounting, and visitor statistics, falls outside the Intended Scope of the CIDOC CRM.

The Practical Scope[2] of the CIDOC CRM is expressed in terms of the set of reference standards and de facto standards for documenting factual knowledge that have been used to guide and validate the CIDOC CRM’s development and its further evolution. The CRM covers the same domain of discourse as the union of these reference standards; this means that for data correctly encoded according to these documentation formats there can be a CIDOC CRM-compatible expression that conveys the same meaning.

As part of the on-going work of keep the standard up-to-date, discussions on the types of bias present in the CIDOC CRM are in progress within the CIDOC CRM community.

Compatibility with the CIDOC CRM

Users intending to take advantage of the semantic interoperability offered by the CIDOC CRM should ensure conformance with the relevant data structures. Conformance pertains either to data to be made accessible in an integrated environment or intended for transport to other environments. Any encoding of data in a formal language that preserves the relations of the classes, properties, and inheritance rules defined by this International Standard, is regarded as conformant.

Conformance with the CIDOC CRM does not require complete matching of all local documentation structures, nor that all concepts and structures present in this International Standard be implemented. This International Standard is intended to allow room both for extensions, needed to capture the full richness of cultural documentation, and for simplification, in the interests of economy. A system will be deemed partially conformant if it supports a subset of subclasses and sub properties defined by this International Standard. Designers of the system should publish details of the constructs that are supported.

The focus of the CIDOC CRM is the exchange and mediation of structured information. It does not require the interpretation of unstructured (free text) information into a structured, logical form. Unstructured information is supported, but falls outside the scope of conformance considerations.

Any documentation system will be deemed conformant with this International Standard, regardless of the internal data structures it uses; if a deterministic logical algorithm can be constructed, that transforms data contained in the system into a directly compatible form without loss of meaning.

No assumptions are made as to the nature of this algorithm. "Without loss of meaning" signifies that designers and users of the system are satisfied that the data representation corresponds to the semantic definitions provided by this International Standard.

Terminology

The following definitions of key terminology used in this document are provided both as an aid to readers unfamiliar with object-oriented modelling terminology, and to specify the precise usage of terms that are sometimes applied inconsistently across the object-oriented modelling community for the purpose of this document. Where applicable, the editors have tried to consistently use terminology that is compatible with that of the Resource Description Framework (RDF),[3] a recommendation of the World Wide Web Consortium. The editors have tried to find a language, which is comprehensible to the non-computer expert and precise enough for the computer expert so that both understand the intended meaning.

 

class

A class is a category of items that share one or more common traits serving as criteria to identify the items belonging to the class. These properties need not be explicitly formulated in logical terms, but may be described in a text (here called a scope note) that refers to a common conceptualisation of domain experts. The sum of these traits is called the intension of the class. A class may be the domain or range of none, one or more properties formally defined in a model. The formally defined properties need not be part of the intension of their domains or ranges: such properties are optional. An item that belongs to a class is called an instance of this class. A class is associated with an open set of real-life instances, known as the extension of the class. Here “open” is used in the sense that it is generally beyond our capabilities to know all instances of a class in the world and indeed that the future may bring new instances about at any time (Open World). Therefore, a class cannot be defined by enumerating its instances. A class plays a role analogous to a grammatical noun, and can be completely defined without reference to any other construct (unlike properties, which must have an unambiguously defined domain and range). In some contexts, the terms individual class, entity or node are used synonymously with class.

For example:

Person is a class. To be a Person may actually be determined by DNA characteristics, but we all know what a Person is. A Person may have the property of being a member of a Group, but it is not necessary to be member of a Group in order to be a Person. We shall never know all Persons of the past. There will be more Persons in the future.

subclass

A subclass is a class that is a specialization of another class (its superclass). Specialization or the IsA relationship means that:

1         all instances of the subclass are also instances of its superclass,

2         the intension of the subclass extends the intension of its superclass, i.e., its traits are more restrictive than that of its superclass and

3         the subclass inherits the definition of all of the properties declared for its superclass without exceptions (strict inheritance), in addition to having none, one or more properties of its own.

A subclass can have more than one immediate superclass and consequently inherits the properties of all of its superclasses (multiple inheritance). The IsA relationship or specialization between two or more classes gives rise to a structure known as a class hierarchy. The IsA relationship is transitive and may not be cyclic. In some contexts (e.g., the programming language C++) the term derived class is used synonymously with subclass.

For example:

Every Person IsA Biological Object, or Person is a subclass of Biological Object.

Also, every Person IsA Actor. A Person may die. However, other kinds of Actors, such as companies, don’t die (c.f. 2).

Every Biological Object IsA Physical Object. A Physical Object can be moved. Hence, a Person can be moved also (c.f. 3).

superclass

A superclass is a class that is a generalization of one or more other classes (its subclasses), which means that it subsumes all instances of its subclasses, and that it can also have additional instances that do not belong to any of its subclasses. The intension of the superclass is less restrictive than any of its subclasses. This subsumption relationship or generalization is the inverse of the IsA relationship or specialization.

For example:

“Biological Object subsumes Person” is synonymous with “Biological Object is a superclass of Person”. It needs fewer traits to identify an item as a Biological Object than to identify it as a Person.

intension

The intension of a class or property is its intended meaning. It consists of one or more common traits shared by all instances of the class or property. These traits need not be explicitly formulated in logical terms, but may just be described in a text (here called a scope note) that refers to a conceptualisation common to domain experts. In particular, the so-called primitive concepts, which make up most of the CIDOC CRM, cannot be further reduced to other concepts by logical terms.

extension

The extension of a class is the set of all real-life instances belonging to the class that fulfil the criteria of its intension. This set is “open” in the sense that it is generally beyond our capabilities to know all instances of a class in the world and indeed that the future may bring new instances about at any time (Open World). An information system may at any point in time refer to some instances of a class, which form a subset of its extension.

scope note

A scope note is a textual description of the intension of a class or property.

Scope notes are not formal modelling constructs, but are provided to help explain the intended meaning and application of the CIDOC CRM’s classes and properties. Basically, they refer to a conceptualisation common to domain experts and disambiguate between different possible interpretations. Illustrative example instances of classes and properties are also regularly provided in the scope notes for explanatory purposes.

instance

An instance of a class is a real-world item that fulfils the criteria of the intension of the class. Note, that the number of instances declared for a class in an information system is typically less than the total in the real world. For example, you are an instance of Person, but you are not mentioned in all information systems describing Persons.

For example:

The painting known as the “The Mona Lisa” is an instance of the class E22 Human-Made Object.

An instance of a property is a factual relation between an instance of the domain and an instance of the range of the property that matches the criteria of the intension of the property.

For example:

The Mona Lisa has former or current owner. The Louvre is an instance of the property P51 has former or current owner (is former or current owner of).

property

A property serves to define a relationship of a specific kind between two classes. The property is characterized by an intension, which is conveyed by a scope note. A property plays a role analogous to a grammatical verb, in that it must be defined with reference to both its domain and range, which are analogous to the subject and object in grammar (unlike classes, which can be defined independently). It is arbitrary, which class is selected as the domain, just as the choice between active and passive voice in grammar is arbitrary. In other words, a property can be interpreted in both directions, with two distinct, but related interpretations. Properties may themselves have properties that relate to other classes (This feature is used in this model only in order to describe dynamic subtyping of properties). Properties can also be specialized in the same manner as classes, resulting in IsA relationships between subproperties and their superproperties.

In some contexts, the terms attribute, reference, link, role or slot are used synonymously with property.

For example:

“Physical Human-Made Thing depicts CRM Entity” is equivalent to “CRM Entity is depicted by Physical Human-Made Thing”.

inverse of

The inverse of a property is the reinterpretation of a property from range to domain without more general or more specific meaning, similar to the choice between active and passive voice in some languages. In contrast to some knowledge representation languages, such as RDF and OWL, we regard that the inverse of a property is not a property in its own right that needs an explicit declaration of being inverse of another, but an interpretation implicitly existing for any property. The inverse of the inverse of a property is identical to the property itself, i.e., its primary sense of direction.

For example:

“CRM Entity is depicted by Physical Human-Made Thing” is the inverse of “Physical Human-Made Thing depicts CRM Entity”

subproperty

 

A subproperty is a property that is a specialization of another property (its superproperty). Specialization or IsA relationship means that:

1         all instances of the subproperty are also instances of its superproperty,

2         the intension of the subproperty extends the intension of the superproperty, i.e., its traits are more restrictive than that of its superproperty,

3         the domain of the subproperty is the same as the domain of its superproperty or a subclass of that domain,

4         the range of the subproperty is the same as the range of its superproperty or a subclass of that range,

5         the subproperty inherits the definition of all of the properties declared for its superproperty without exceptions (strict inheritance), in addition to having none, one or more properties of its own.

A subproperty can have more than one immediate superproperty and consequently inherits the properties of all of its superproperties (multiple inheritance). The IsA relationship or specialization between two or more properties gives rise to the structure we call a property hierarchy. The IsA relationship is transitive and may not be cyclic.

Some object-oriented programming languages, such as C++, do not contain constructs that allow for the expression of the specialization of properties as sub-properties.

Alternatively, a property may be subproperty of the inverse of another property, i.e., reading the property from range to domain. In that case:

1         all instances of the subproperty are also instances of the inverse of the other property,

2         the intension of the subproperty extends the intension of the inverse of the other property, i.e., its traits are more restrictive than that of the inverse of the other property,

3         the domain of the subproperty is the same as the range of the other property or a subclass of that range,

4         the range of the subproperty is the same as the domain of the other property or a subclass of that domain,

5         the subproperty inherits the definition of all of the properties declared for the other property without exceptions (strict inheritance), in addition to having none, one or more properties of its own. The definitions of inherited properties have to be interpreted in the inverse sense of direction of the subproperty, i.e., from range to domain.

superproperty

 

A superproperty is a property that is a generalization of one or more other properties (its subproperties), which means that it subsumes all instances of its subproperties, and that it can also have additional instances that do not belong to any of its subproperties. The intension of the superproperty is less restrictive than any of its subproperties. The subsumption relationship or generalization is the inverse of the IsA relationship or specialization. A superproperty may be a generalization of the inverse of another property.

domain

The domain is the class for which a property is formally defined. This means that instances of the property are applicable to instances of its domain class. A property must have exactly one domain, although the domain class may always contain instances for which the property is not instantiated. The domain class is analogous to the grammatical subject of the phrase for which the property is analogous to the verb. It is arbitrary which class is selected as the domain and which as the range, just as the choice between active and passive voice in grammar is arbitrary. Property names in the CIDOC CRM are designed to be semantically meaningful and grammatically correct when read from domain to range. In addition, the inverse property name, normally given in parentheses, is also designed to be semantically meaningful and grammatically correct when read from range to domain.

range

The range is the class that comprises all potential values of a property. That means that instances of the property can link only to instances of its range class. A property must have exactly one range, although the range class may always contain instances that are not the value of the property. The range class is analogous to the grammatical object of a phrase for which the property is analogous to the verb. It is arbitrary which class is selected as domain and which as range, just as the choice between active and passive voice in grammar is arbitrary. Property names in the CIDOC CRM are designed to be semantically meaningful and grammatically correct when read from domain to range. In addition, the inverse property name, normally given in parentheses, is also designed to be semantically meaningful and grammatically correct when read from range to domain.

inheritance

Inheritance of properties from superclasses to subclasses means that if an item x is an instance of a class A, then:

1         all properties that must hold for the instances of any of the superclasses of A must also hold for item x, and

2         all optional properties that may hold for the instances of any of the superclasses of A may also hold for item x.

strict

inheritance

Strict inheritance means that there are no exceptions to the inheritance of properties from superclasses to subclasses. For instance, some systems may declare that elephants are grey, and regard a white elephant as an exception. Under strict inheritance it would hold that: if all elephants were grey, then a white elephant could not be an elephant. Obviously not all elephants are grey. To be grey is not part of the intension of the concept elephant but an optional property. The CIDOC CRM applies strict inheritance as a normalization principle.

multiple

inheritance

Multiple inheritance means that a class A may have more than one immediate superclass. The extension of a class with multiple immediate superclasses is a subset of the intersection of all extensions of its superclasses. The intension of a class with multiple immediate superclasses extends the intensions of all its superclasses, i.e., its traits are more restrictive than any of its superclasses. If multiple inheritance is used, the resulting “class hierarchy” is a directed graph and not a tree structure. If it is represented as an indented list, there are necessarily repetitions of the same class at different positions in the list.

For example:

Person is both an Actor and a Biological Object.

multiple Instantiation

Multiple Instantiation is the term that describes the case that an instance of class A is also regarded as an instance of one or more other classes B1...n at the same time. When multiple instantiation is used, it has the effect that the properties of all these classes become available to describe this instance. For instance, some particular cases of destruction may also be activities (e.g., Herostratos’ deed), but not all destructions are activities (e.g., destruction of Herculaneum). In comparison, multiple inheritance describes the case that all instances of a class A are implicitly instances of all superclasses of A, by virtue of the definition of the class A, whereas the combination of classes used for multiple instantiation is a characteristic of particular instances only. It is important to note that multiple instantiation is not allowed using combinations of disjoint classes.

endurant, perdurant

“The difference between enduring and perduring entities (which we shall also call endurants and perdurants) is related to their behaviour in time. Endurants are wholly present (i.e., all their proper parts are present) at any time they are present. Perdurants, on the other hand, just extend in time by accumulating different temporal parts, so that, at any time they are present, they are only partially present, in the sense that some of their proper temporal parts (e.g., their previous or future phases) may be not present. E.g., the piece of paper you are reading now is wholly present, while some temporal parts of your reading are not present any more. Philosophers say that endurants are entities that are in time, while lacking however temporal parts (so to speak, all their parts flow with them in time). Perdurants, on the other hand, are entities that happen in time, and can have temporal parts (all their parts are fixed in time).” (Gangemi et al. 2002, pp. 166-181).

shortcut

A shortcut is a formally defined single property that represents a deduction or join of a data path in the CIDOC CRM. The scope notes of all properties characterized as shortcuts describe in words the equivalent deduction. Shortcuts are introduced for the cases where common documentation practice refers only to the deduction rather than to the fully developed path. For example, museums often only record the dimension of an object without documenting the Measurement that observed it. The CIDOC CRM declares shortcuts explicitly as single properties in order to allow the user to describe cases in which he has less detailed knowledge than the full data path would need to be described. For each shortcut, the CIDOC CRM contains in its schema the properties of the full data path explaining the shortcut.

monotonic

reasoning

Monotonic reasoning is a term from knowledge representation. A reasoning form is monotonic if an addition to the set of propositions making up the knowledge base never determines a decrement in the set of conclusions that may be derived from the knowledge base via inference rules. In practical terms, if experts enter subsequently correct statements to an information system, the system should not regard any results from those statements as invalid, when a new one is entered. The CIDOC CRM is designed for monotonic reasoning and so enables conflict-free merging of huge stores of knowledge.

disjoint

Classes are disjoint if the intersection of their extensions is an empty set. In other words, they have no common instances in any possible world.

primitive

The term primitive as used in knowledge representation characterizes a concept that is declared and its meaning is agreed upon, but that is not defined by a logical deduction from other concepts. For example, mother may be described as a female human with child. Then mother is not a primitive concept. Event however is a primitive concept.

Most of the CIDOC CRM is made up of primitive concepts.

Open World

The “Open World Assumption” is a term from knowledge base systems. It characterizes knowledge base systems that assume the information stored is incomplete relative to the universe of discourse they intend to describe. This incompleteness may be due to the inability of the maintainer to provide sufficient information or due to more fundamental problems of cognition in the system’s domain. Such problems are characteristic of cultural information systems. Our records about the past are necessarily incomplete. In addition, there may be items that cannot be clearly assigned to a given class.

In particular, absence of a certain property for an item described in the system does not mean that this item does not have this property. For example, if one item is described as Biological Object and another as Physical Object, this does not imply that the latter may not be a Biological Object as well. Therefore, complements of a class with respect to a superclass cannot be concluded in general from an information system using the Open World Assumption. For example, one cannot list “all Physical Objects known to the system that are not Biological Objects in the real world”, but one may of course list “all items known to the system as Physical Objects but that are not known to the system as Biological Objects”.

complement

The complement of a class A with respect to one of its superclasses B is the set of all instances of B that are not instances of A. Formally, it is the set-theoretic difference of the extension of B minus the extension of A. Compatible extensions of the CIDOC CRM should not declare any class with the intension of them being the complement of one or more other classes. To do so will normally violate the desire to describe an Open World. For example, for all possible cases of human gender, male should not be declared as the complement of female or vice versa. What if someone is both or even of another kind?

query containment

Query containment is a problem from database theory: A query X contains another query Y, if for each possible population of a database the answer set to query X contains also the answer set to query Y. If query X and Y were classes, then X would be superclass of Y.

interoperability

Interoperability means the capability of different information systems to communicate some of their contents. In particular, it may mean that

1          two systems can exchange information, and/or

2          multiple systems can be accessed with a single method.

Generally, syntactic interoperability is distinguished from semantic interoperability. Syntactic interoperability means that the information encoding of the involved systems and the access protocols are compatible, so that information can be processed as described above without error. However, this does not mean that each system processes the data in a manner consistent with the intended meaning. For example, one system may use a table called “Actor” and another one called “Agent”. With syntactic interoperability, data from both tables may only be retrieved as distinct, even though they may have exactly the same meaning. To overcome this situation, semantic interoperability has to be added. The CIDOC CRM relies on existing syntactic interoperability and is concerned only with adding semantic interoperability.

semantic interoperability

Semantic interoperability means the capability of different information systems to communicate information consistent with the intended meaning. In more detail, the intended meaning encompasses

1         the data structure elements involved,

2         the terminology appearing as data and

3         the identifiers used in the data for factual items such as places, people, objects etc.

Obviously, communication about data structure must be resolved first. In this case consistent communication means that data can be transferred between data structure elements with the same intended meaning or that data from elements with the same intended meaning can be merged. In practice, the different levels of generalization in different systems do not allow the achievement of this ideal. Therefore, semantic interoperability is regarded as achieved if elements can be found that provide a reasonably close generalization for the transfer or merge. This problem is being studied theoretically as the query containment problem. The CIDOC CRM is only concerned with semantic interoperability on the level of data structure elements.

property quantifiers

We use the term "property quantifiers" for the declaration of the allowed number of instances of a certain property that can refer to a particular instance of the range class or the domain class of that property. These declarations are ontological, i.e., they refer to the nature of the real world described and not to our current knowledge. For example, each person has exactly one father, but collected knowledge may refer to none, one or many.

universal

The fundamental ontological distinction between universals and particulars can be informally understood by considering their relationship with instantiation: particulars are entities that have no instances in any possible world; universals are entities that do have instances. Classes and properties (corresponding to predicates in a logical language) are usually considered to be universals. (after Gangemi et al. 2002, pp. 166-181).

knowledge creation process

All knowledge contained in an information system must have been introduced into that system by some human agent, either directly or indirectly. Despite this fact, many, if not most, statements within such a system will lack specific attribution of authority. That being said, in the domain of cultural heritage, it is common practice that, for the processes of collection documentation and management, there are clearly and explicitly elaborated systems of responsibility outlining by whom and how knowledge can be added and or modified in the system. Ideally these systems are specified in institutional policy and protocol documents. Thus, it is reasonable to hold that all such statements that lack explicit authority attribution within the information system can, in fact, be read as the official view of the administrating institution of that system.

Such a position does not mean to imply that an information system represents at any particular moment a completed phase of knowledge that the institution promotes. Rather, it means to underline that, in a CH context, a managed set of data, at any state of elaboration, will in fact embody an adherence to some explicit code of standards which guarantees the validity of that data within the scope of said standards and all practical limitations. So long as the information is under active management it remains continuously open to revision and improvement as further research reveals further understanding surrounding the objects of concern.

A distinct exception to this rule is represented by information in the data set that carries with it an explicit statement of responsibility.

In CIDOC CRM such statements of responsibility are expressed though knowledge creation events such as E13 Attribute Assignment and its relevant subclasses. Any information in a CIDOC CRM model that is based on an explicit creation event for that piece of information, where the creator’s identity has been given, is attributed to the authority and assigned to the responsibility of the actor identified as causal in that event. For any information in the system connected to knowledge creation events that do not explicitly reference their creator, as well as any information not connected to creation events, the responsibility falls back to the institution responsible for the database/knowledge graph. That means that for information only expressed through shortcuts such as P2 has type, where no knowledge creation event has been explicitly specified, the originating creation event cannot be deduced and the responsibility for the information can never be any other body than the institution responsible for the whole information system.

In the case of an institution taking over stewardship of a database transferred into their custody, two relations of responsibility for the knowledge therein can be envisioned. If the institution accepts the dataset and undertakes to maintain and update it, then they take on responsibility for that information and become the default authority behind its statements as described above. If, on the other hand, the institution accepts the data set and stores it without change as a closed resource, then it can be considered that the default authority remains the original steward.

transitivity

Transitivity is defined in the standard way found in mathematics or logic: A property P is transitive if the domain and range is the same class and for all instances x, y, z of this class the following is the case: If x is related by P to y and y is related by P to z, then x is related by P to z. The intention of a property as described in the scope note will decide whether a property is transitive or not. For example, the property P121 overlaps with between instances of E53 Place is not transitive, while the property P89 falls within (contains) between instances of E53 Place and the property P46 is composed of (forms part of) between instances of E18 Physical Thing are both transitive. Transitivity is especially useful when CIDOC CRM is implemented in a system with deduction.

symmetry

Symmetry is defined in the standard way found in mathematics or logic: A property P is symmetric if the domain and range are the same class and for all instances x, y of this class the following is the case: If x is related by P to y, then y is related by P to x. The intention of a property as described in the scope note will decide whether a property is symmetric or not. An example of a symmetric property is E53 Place. P122 borders with: E53 Place. The names of symmetric properties have no parenthetical form, because reading in the range-to-domain direction is the same as the domain-to-range reading.

reflexivity

Reflexivity is defined in the standard way found in mathematics or logic: A property P is reflexive if the domain and range are the same class and for all instances x, of this class the following is the case: x is related by P to itself. The intention of a property as described in the scope note will decide whether a property is reflexive or not. An example of a reflexive property is E53 Place. P89 falls within (contains): E53 Place.

Applied Form

The CIDOC CRM is an ontology in the sense used in computer science. It has been expressed as an object-oriented semantic model, in the hope that this formulation will be comprehensible to both documentation experts and information scientists alike, while at the same time being readily converted to machine-readable formats such as RDF Schema or OWL. A CRM conformant documentation system can be implemented using RDF Schema or OWL, but also in Relational or Object-Oriented schema. CIDOC CRM instances can be encoded in RDF, JSON LD, XML, OWL and others.

More specifically, the CIDOC CRM is expressed in terms of the primitives of semantic data modelling. As such, it consists of:

·   classes, which represent general notions in the domain of discourse, such as the CIDOC CRM class E21 Person which represents the notion of person;

·   properties, which represent the binary relations that link the individuals in the domain of discourse, such as the CIDOC CRM property P152 has parent linking a person to one of the person’s parent.

·   properties of properties, such as the property P14.1 in the role of, of the CIDOC CRM property P14 carried out by (see also section “About Types”).
They do not appear in the property hierarchy list, but are included as part of their base property declaration and are referred to in the class declarations. They all have the implicit quantification “many to many” (see also section “Property Quantifiers”)

Although the definition of the CIDOC CRM provided here is complete, it is an intentionally compact and concise presentation of the CIDOC CRM’s  81 classes and 160 unique properties. It does not attempt to articulate the inheritance of properties by subclasses throughout the class hierarchy (this would require the declaration of several thousand properties, as opposed to 160). However, this definition does contain all of the information necessary to infer and automatically generate a full declaration of all properties, including inherited properties.

Naming Conventions

The following naming conventions have been applied throughout the CIDOC CRM:

·     Classes are identified by numbers preceded by the letter “E” (historically classes were sometimes referred to as “Entities”), and are named using noun phrases (nominal groups) using title case (initial capitals). For example, E63 Beginning of Existence.

·     Properties are identified by numbers preceded by the letter “P,” and are named in both directions using verbal phrases in lower case. Properties with the character of states are named in the present tense, such as “has type”, whereas properties related to events are named in past tense, such as “carried out.” For example, P126 employed (was employed in).

·     Property names should be read in their non-parenthetical form for the domain-to-range direction, and in parenthetical form for the range-to-domain direction. Reading a property in range-to-domain direction is equivalent to the inverse of that property. Following a current notational practice in OWL knowledge representation language, we represent inverse properties in this text by adding a letter “i” following the identification number and the parenthetical form of the full property name, such as P59i is located on or within, which is the inverse of P59 has section (is located on or within).

·     Properties with a range that is a subclass of E59 Primitive Value (such as E1 CRM Entity. P3 has note: E62 String, for example) have no parenthetical name form, because reading the property name in the range-to-domain direction is not regarded as meaningful.

·     Properties that have identical domain and range are either symmetric or transitive. Instantiating a symmetric property implies that the same relation holds for both the domain-to-range and the range-to-domain directions. An example of this is E53 Place. P122 borders with: E53 Place. The names of symmetric properties have no parenthetical form, because reading in the range-to-domain direction is the same as the domain-to-range reading. Transitive asymmetric properties, such as E4 Period. P9 consist of (forms part of): E4 Period, have a parenthetical form that relates to the meaning of the inverse direction.

·     The choice of the domain of properties, and hence the order of their names, are established in accordance with the following priority list:

-  Temporal Entity and its subclasses

-  Thing and its subclasses

-  Actor and its subclasses

-  Other

·   Properties of properties are identified by “P”, followed by the number of the base property extended with “.1” and are named in one direction using a verbal phrase in lower case in the present tense. For example: the property P62.1 mode of depiction of the property P62 depicts (is depicted by)

Inheritance and Transitivity

CIDOC CRM is formulated as a class system with inheritance. A property P with domain A and range B will also be a property between any possible subclasses of A and of B. In many cases there will be a common subclass C of both A and B. In these cases, when the property is restricted to C, that is, with C as domain and range, the restricted property could be transitive. For instance, an E73 Information Object can be incorporated into an E90 Symbolic Object and thus an information object can be incorporated in another information object.

In the definition of CIDOC CRM the transitive properties are explicitly marked as such in the scope notes. All unmarked properties should be considered as not transitive.

Shortcuts

Some properties are declared as shortcuts of longer, more comprehensively articulated paths that connect the same domain and range classes as the shortcut property via one or more intermediate classes. For example, the property E18 Physical Thing. P52 has current owner (is current owner of): E39 Actor, is a shortcut for a fully articulated path from E18 Physical Thing through E8 Acquisition to E39 Actor. An instance of the fully-articulated path always implies an instance of the shortcut property. However, the inverse may not be true; an instance of the fully-articulated path cannot always be inferred from an instance of the shortcut property inside the frame of the actual KB

The class E13 Attribute Assignment allows for the documentation of how the assignment of any property came about, and whose opinion it was, even in cases of properties not explicitly characterized as “shortcuts”.

About the logical expressions used in the CIDOC CRM

The present CIDOC CRM specifications are annotated with logical axioms, providing an additional formal expression of the CIDOC CRM ontology. This section briefly introduces the assumptions that are at the basis of the logical expression of the CIDOC CRM (for a fully detailed account of the logical expression of semantic data modelling, see (Reiter,1984)).

In terms of semantic data modelling, classes and properties are used to express ontological knowledge by means of various kinds of constraints, such as sub-class/sub-property links, e.g., E21 Person is a sub-class of E20 Biological Object, or domain/range constraints, e.g., the domain of P152 has parent is class E21 Person.

In contrast, first-order logic-based knowledge representation relies on a language for formally encoding an ontology. This language can be directly put in correspondence with semantic data modelling in a straightforward way:

·     classes are named by unary predicate symbols; conventionally, we use E21 as the unary predicate symbol corresponding to class E21 Person;

·     properties are named by binary predicate symbols; conventionally, we use P152 as the binary predicate symbol corresponding to property P152 has parent.

·     properties of properties, “.1 properties” are named by ternary predicate symbols; conventionally, we use P14.1 as the ternary predicate symbol corresponding to property P14.1 in the role of.

Ontology is expressed in logic by means of logical axioms, which correspond to the constraints of semantic modelling. In the definition of classes and properties of the CIDOC CRM the axioms are placed under the heading ‘In first order logic’. There are several options for writing statements in first order logic. In this document we use a standard compact notation widely used in text books and scientific papers. The definition is given in the table below.

Table 1: Symbolic Operators in First Order Logic Representation

Symbol

Name

reads

Truth value

Operators

 

 

 

conjunction

and

(ö  ø) is true

if and only if both ö and ø are true

disjunction

or

(ö  ø) is true

if and only if at least one of either ö or ø is true

¬

negation

not

¬ö is true if and only if ö is false

implication

implies,

if … then ...

 (ö  ø) is true

if and only if it is not the case that ö is true and ø is false

equivalence

is equivalent to,

if … and only if …

ö  ø is true

if and only if both ö and ø are true or both ö and ø are false

Quantifiers

 

 

 

existential quantifier

exists,

there exists at least one

 

Universal quantifier

forall,

for all

 

 

For instance, the above sub-class link between E21 Person and E20 Biological Object can be formulated in first order logic as the axiom:

(x) [E21(x) E20(x)]

(reading: for all individuals x, if x is a E21 then x is an E20).

In the definitions of classes and properties in this document the universal quantifier(s) are omitted for simplicity, so the above axiom is simply written:

E21(x) E20(x)

Likewise, the above domain constraint on property P152 has parent can be formulated in first order logic as the axiom:

P152(x,y) E21(x)

(reading: for all individuals x and y, if x is a P152 of y, then x is an E21).

Properties of properties, indicated by a '.1' after the property number are described as ternary predicate symbols. For example,  the property P14.1 in the role of  is described as the ternary predicate symbol corresponding to property P14 carried out by (performed) :

P14(x,y) E7(x)

P14(x,y) E39(y)

P14(x,y,z) [P14(x,y) E55(z)]

These basic considerations should be used by the reader to understand the logical axioms that are used into the definition of the classes and properties. Further information about the first order formulation of CIDOC CRM can be found in (Meghini & Doerr, 2018)

Property Quantifiers

Quantifiers for properties are provided for the purpose of semantic clarification only, and should not be treated as implementation recommendations. The CIDOC CRM has been designed to accommodate alternative opinions and incomplete information, and therefore all properties should be implemented as optional and repeatable for their domain and range (“many to many (0,n:0,n)”). Therefore, the term “cardinality constraints” is avoided here, as it typically pertains to implementations.

The following table lists all possible property quantifiers occurring in this document by their notation, together with an explanation in plain words. In order to provide optimal clarity, two widely accepted notations are used redundantly in this document, a verbal and a numeric one. The verbal notation uses phrases such as “one to many”, and the numeric one, expressions such as “(0,n:0,1)”. While the terms “one”, “many” and “necessary” are quite intuitive, the term “dependent” denotes a situation where a range instance cannot exist without an instance of the respective property. In other words, the property is “necessary” for its range. (Meghini, C. & Doerr, M., 2018)

 

many to many (0,n:0,n)

Unconstrained: An individual domain instance and range instance of this property can have zero, one or more instances of this property. In other words, this property is optional and repeatable for its domain and range.

 

one to many

(0,n:0,1)

 

An individual domain instance of this property can have zero, one or more instances of this property, but an individual range instance cannot be referenced by more than one instance of this property. In other words, this property is optional for its domain and range, but repeatable for its domain only. In some contexts, this situation is called a “fan-out”.

many to one

(0,1:0,n)

An individual domain instance of this property can have zero or one instance of this property, but an individual range instance can be referenced by zero, one or more instances of this property. In other words, this property is optional for its domain and range, but repeatable for its range only. In some contexts, this situation is called a “fan-in”.

 

many to many, necessary (1,n:0,n)

An individual domain instance of this property can have one or more instances of this property, but an individual range instance can have zero, one or more instances of this property. In other words, this property is necessary and repeatable for its domain, and optional and repeatable for its range.

 

one to many, necessary

(1,n:0,1)

 

An individual domain instance of this property can have one or more instances of this property, but an individual range instance cannot be referenced by more than one instance of this property. In other words, this property is necessary and repeatable for its domain, and optional but not repeatable for its range. In some contexts, this situation is called a “fan-out”.

 

many to one, necessary

(1,1:0,n)

An individual domain instance of this property must have exactly one instance of this property, but an individual range instance can be referenced by zero, one or more instances of this property. In other words, this property is necessary and not repeatable for its domain, and optional and repeatable for its range. In some contexts, this situation is called a “fan-in”.

 

one to many, dependent

(0,n:1,1)

 

An individual domain instance of this property can have zero, one or more instances of this property, but an individual range instance must be referenced by exactly one instance of this property. In other words, this property is optional and repeatable for its domain, but necessary and not repeatable for its range. In some contexts, this situation is called a “fan-out”.

 

one to many, necessary, dependent

(1,n:1,1)

An individual domain instance of this property can have one or more instances of this property, but an individual range instance must be referenced by exactly one instance of this property. In other words, this property is necessary and repeatable for its domain, and necessary but not repeatable for its range. In some contexts, this situation is called a “fan-out”.

 

many to one, necessary, dependent

(1,1:1,n)

An individual domain instance of this property must have exactly one instance of this property, but an individual range instance can be referenced by one or more instances of this property. In other words, this property is necessary and not repeatable for its domain, and necessary and repeatable for its range. In some contexts, this situation is called a “fan-in”.

 

one to one

(1,1:1,1)

An individual domain instance and range instance of this property must have exactly one instance of this property. In other words, this property is necessary and not repeatable for its domain and for its range.

The CIDOC CRM defines some dependencies between properties and the classes that are their domains or ranges. These can be one or both of the following:

·     the property is necessary for the domain

·     the property is necessary for the range, or, in other words, the range is dependent on the property.

The possible kinds of dependencies are defined in the table above. Note that if a dependent property is not specified for an instance of the respective domain or range, it means that the property exists, but the value on one side of the property is unknown. In the case of optional properties, the methodology proposed by the CIDOC CRM does not distinguish between a value being unknown or the property not being applicable at all. For example, one may know that an object has an owner, but the owner is unknown. In a CIDOC CRM instance this case cannot be distinguished from the fact that the object has no owner at all. Of course, such details can always be specified by a textual note.

Note that the quantification of all properties of properties, “.1” properties, is “many-to-many” and, therefore, does not appear explicitly in their definitions.


 

Modelling principles

The following modelling principles have guided and informed the development of the CIDOC CRM.

Reality, Knowledge Bases and CIDOC CRM

The CIDOC CRM is a formal ontology in the sense introduced by (Guarino, 1998).[4] The present document is intended to embrace an audience not specialized in computer science and logic; therefore, it focuses on the informal semantics and on the pragmatics of the CIDOC CRM concepts, offering a detailed discussion of the main traits of the conceptualization underlying the CIDOC CRM through basic usage patterns.[5] The CIDOC CRM aims to assist sharing, connecting and integrating information from research about the past. In order to understand the function of a formal ontology of this kind, one needs to make the following distinctions:

·     The material reality. For the purpose of the CIDOC CRM, material reality is regarded as whatever has substance that can be perceived with senses or instruments. Examples are people, a forest or a settlement environment, sea, atmosphere, distant celestial or cellular micro structures, including what we assume could be potentially or theoretically perceived if we could be there, such as the centre of Earth or the sun, and all that is past. It is constrained to space and time. What goes on in our minds or is produced by our minds is also regarded as part of the material reality, as it becomes materially evident to other people at least by our utterances, behaviour and products.

·     The units of description or particulars, i.e., the things and relations which we refer to in order to distinguish parts of reality. Examples are Mount Ida, the Taj Mahal, the formation of China by emperor Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇) in 221BC, Tut-Ankh Amun and his embalming, Prince Shotoku of Japan sending a mission to China in 607AD, the participation of Socrates in the Battle of Potidaea or the radiocarbon dating of the Iceman Ötzi (Kutschera, 2002).

A formal ontology, such as the CIDOC CRM, constitutes a controlled language for talking about particulars. I.e., it provides classes and properties for categorizing particulars as so-called “instances” in a way that their individuation, unity and relevant properties are as unambiguous as possible.  For instance, Tut-Ankh Amun as instance of E21 Person is the real pharaoh from his birth to death, and not extending to his mummy, as follows from the specification of the class E21 Person and its properties in the CIDOC CRM.

For clarification, the CIDOC CRM does not take a position against or in favour of the existence of spiritual substance nor of substance not accessible by either senses or instruments, nor does it suggest a materialistic philosophy. However, for practical reasons, it relies on the priority of integrating information based on material evidence available for whatever human experience. The CIDOC CRM only commits to a unique material reality independent from the observer.

When we provide descriptions of particulars, we need to refer to them by unique names, titles or constructed identifiers, all of which are instances of E41 Appellation in the CIDOC CRM, in order the reference to be independent of the context. (In contrast, reference to particulars by pronouns or enumerations of characteristic properties, such as name and birth date, are context dependent). The appellation, and the relation between the appellation and the referred item or relationship, must not be confused with the referred item and its identity. For example, Tut-Ankh Amun the name (instance of E41 Appellation) is different from Tut-Ankh Amun the person (instance of E21 Person) and also different from the relationship between name and person (P1 is identified by). Instances of CIDOC CRM classes are the real particulars, not their names, but in descriptions, names must be used as surrogates for the real things meant. Particulars are approximate individuations, like sections, of parts of reality. In other words, the uniqueness of reality does not depend on where one draws the line between the mountain and the valley.

A CIDOC CRM-compatible knowledge base (KB) (Meghini & Doerr 2018) is an instance of E73 Information Object in the CIDOC CRM. It contains (data structures that encode) formal statements representing propositions believed to be true in a reality by an observer. These statements use appellations (e.g., http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n79066005[6]) of ontological particulars and of CRM concepts (e.g., P100i died in). Thereby users, in their capacity of having real-world knowledge and cognition, may be able to relate these statements to the propositions they are meant to characterize, and be able to reason and research about their validity. In other words, the formal instances in a knowledge base are the identifiers, not the real things or phenomena. A special case is digital content: a KB in a computer system may contain statements about instances of E90 Symbolic Object and the real thing may be text residing within the same KB. The instance of E90 Symbolic Object and its textual representation are separate entities and they can be connected with the property P190 has symbolic content.

Therefore, a knowledge base does not contain knowledge, but statements that represent knowledge, as long as there exist people that can resolve the identifiers used to their referents. (Appellations described in a knowledge base, and not used as primary substitutes of other items, are of course explicitly declared as instances of E41 Appellation in the knowledge base.)

Authorship of Knowledge Base Contents

This section describes a recommended good practice how to relate authority to knowledge base contents.

Statements in a KB must have been inserted by some human agent, either directly or indirectly. However, these statements often make no reference to that agent, lacking attribution of authority. An example of such statements in the CIDOC CRM is information expressed through shortcuts such as P2 has type. In the domain of cultural heritage, it is common practice that the responsibility for maintaining knowledge in the KB is elaborated in institutional policy or protocol documents. Thus, it is reasonable to hold that statements which lack explicit authority attribution can be read as the official view of the administrating institution of that system, i.e., the maintainers of the KB. This does not imply that the knowledge described in the KB is complete. So long as the information is under active management, it remains continuously open to revision and improvement as further research reveals further understandings.[7] A KB does not represent a slice of reality, but the justified beliefs of its maintainers about that reality. For simplicity, we speak about a KB as representing some reality.

Statements in a KB may also carry explicit references to agents that produced them, i.e., further statements of responsibility. In CIDOC CRM such statements of responsibility are expressed though knowledge creation events such as E13 Attribute Assignment and its relevant subclasses. Any knowledge that is about an explicit knowledge creation event, where the creator’s identity has been given, is implicitly attributed to be correctly referred to in the KB by the maintaining authority, whereas the responsibility for the content created by that event is assigned to the agent identified as causal to that event.

In the special case of an institution taking over stewardship of a database transferred into their custody, two relations of responsibility for the knowledge therein can be envisioned. If the institution accepts the dataset and undertakes to maintain and update it, then they take on responsibility for that information and become the default authority behind its statements as described above. If, on the other hand, the institution accepts the data set and stores it without change as a closed resource, then it can be considered that the default authority remains the original steward like for any other scholarly document kept by the institution.

Extensions of CIDOC CRM

Since the intended scope of the CIDOC CRM is a subset of the “real” world and is therefore potentially infinite, the model has been designed to be extensible through the linkage of compatible external type hierarchies.

Of necessity, some concepts covered by the CIDOC CRM are defined in less details than others: E39 Actor and E30 Right, for example. This is a natural consequence of staying within the model’s clearly articulated practical scope in an intrinsically unlimited domain of discourse. These ‘underdeveloped’ concepts can be considered as candidate superclasses for compatible extensions, in particular for disciplines with a respective focus. Additions to the model are known as extensions while the main model is known as CRMbase.

Compatibility of extensions with the CRM means that data structured according to an extension must also remain valid as instances of CIDOC CRM base classes. In practical terms, this implies query containment: any queries based on CIDOC CRM concepts to a KB should retrieve a result set that is correct according to the model’s semantics, regardless of whether the KR is structured according to the CIDOC CRM’s semantics alone, or according to the CIDOC CRM plus compatible extensions. For example, a query such as “list all events” should recall 100% of the instances deemed to be events by the CIDOC CRM, regardless of how they are classified by the extension.

A sufficient condition for the compatibility of an extension with the CIDOC CRM is that its classes, other than E1 CRM Entity, subsume all classes of the extension, and all properties of the extension are either subsumed by CRM properties, or are part of a path for which a CIDOC CRM property is a shortcut, and that classes and properties of the extension can be well distinguished from those in the CIDOC CRM. For instance, a class “tangible object” may be in conflict with existing classes of the CIDOC CRM. Obviously, such a condition can only be tested intellectually.

The CRM provides a number of mechanisms to ensure that coverage of the intended scope can be increased on demand without losing compatibility:

1          Existing classes can be extended, either structurally as subclasses or dynamically using the type hierarchy (see section About Types below).

2          Existing properties can be extended, either structurally as subproperties, or in some cases, dynamically, using properties of properties which allow subtyping (see section About Types below).

3          Additional information that falls outside the semantics formally defined by the CIDOC CRM can be recorded as unstructured data using E1 CRM Entity. P3 has note: E62 String.

4          Extending the CIDOC CRM by superclasses and properties that pertain to a wider scope. They are called conservative extensions, if they preserve backwards compatibility with instances described with the CIDOC CRM.

Following strategies 1, 2 and 3 will have the result that the CIDOC CRM concepts subsume and thereby cover the extensions. This means that querying an extended knowledge base only with concepts of the CIDOC CRM will nevertheless retrieve all facts described via the extensions.

In mechanism 3, the information in the notes is accessible in the respective knowledge base by retrieving the instances of E1 CRM Entity that are domain of P3 has note. Keyword search will also work for the content of the note. Rules should be applied to attach a note to the item most specific for the content. For instance, details about the role of an actor in an activity should be associated with the instance of E7 Activity, and not with the instance of E39 Actor. This approach is preferable when queries relating elements from the content of such notes across the knowledge base are not expected.

In general, only concepts to be used for selecting multiple instances from the knowledge base by formal querying need to be explicitly modelled. This criterion depends on the expected scope and use of the particular knowledge base. The CIDOC CRM prioritizes modelling the kinds of facts one would like to retrieve and relate from heterogeneous content sources, potentially from different institutions. It does not, by way of contrast, focus on the modelling of facts with a more local scope such as the administrative practices internal to an institution.

Mechanism 4, conservative extension, is more complex:         

With increasing use of the CIDOC CRM, there is also a need for extensions that model phenomena from a scope wider than the original one of the CIDOC CRM, but which are also applicable to the concepts that do fall within the CIDOC CRM’s scope. When this occurs, properties of the CIDOC CRM may be found to be applicable more generally to superclasses of the extension than to those of their current domain or range in the CIDOC CRM. This is a consequence of the key principle of the CIDOC CRM to model “bottom up”, i.e., selecting the domains and ranges for properties to be as narrow as they would apply in a well understood fashion in the current scope, thus avoiding making poorly understood generalizations at risk of requiring non-monotonic correction.

The fourth mechanism for extending the CIDOC CRM by conservation extension can be seen to be split into two cases:

1          A new class or property is added to an extension of the CIDOC CRM, which is not covered by superclasses other than E1 CRM Entity or a superproperty in the CIDOC CRM respectively. In this case, all facts described only by such concepts are not accessible by queries with CIDOC CRM concepts. Therefore, the extension should publish in a compatibility statement the additional relevant high-level classes and properties needed to retrieve all facts documented with the extended model. This case is a monotonic extension.

2          The domain or range of an existing property in the CIDOC CRM is changed to a superclass of the one or the other or both, because the property is understood to be applicable beyond its originally anticipated scope. In this case, all facts described by the extension are still accessible by querying with the concepts of the CIDOC CRM, but the extension can describe additional facts that the CIDOC CRM could not. This case is a monotonic extension and generally recommended, because it enables bottom-up evolution of the model. If this change is part of a new release of the CIDOC CRM itself, it is simply backwards compatible, and this has been done frequently in the evolution of this model.

If case (2) should be documented and implemented in an extension module separate from the CIDOC CRM, it may come in conflict with the current way knowledge representation languages, such as RDF/OWL, treat it, because in formal logic changing the range or domain of a property is regarded as changing the ontological meaning completely; there is no distinction between the meaning of the property independent of domain and range and the specification of the domain and range. It is, however, similar to what in logic is called a conservative extension of a theory, and necessary for an effective modular management of ontologies.

Therefore, for the interested reader, we describe here a definition of this case in terms of first order logic, which shows how modularity can formally be achieved:

Let us assume a property P defined with domain class A and range class C also holds for a domain class B, superclass of A, and a range class D, superclass of C, in the sense of its ontological meaning in the real world. We describe this situation by introducing an auxiliary formal property P’, defined with domain class B and range class D, and apply the following logic:

                               A(x) B(x)

                               C(x) D(x)

                               P(x,y) A(x)

                               P(x,y) C(y)

                               P’(x,y) B(x)

                               P’(x,y) D(y)

Then, P’ is a conservative extension of P if: A(x) C(y) P’(x,y)   P(x,y)

In other words, a separate extension module may re-declare the respective property with another identifier, preferably using the same label, and implement the above rule.

Minimality

Although the scope of the CIDOC CRM is very broad, the model itself is constructed as economically as possible:

·     CIDOC CRM classes and properties are either primitive, or they are key concepts in the practical scope.

·     Complements of CIDOC CRM classes are not declared, because, considering the Open World principle, there are no properties for complements of a class (see Terminology and first consequence of Monotonicity).

A CIDOC CRM class is declared when:

·     It is required as the domain or range of a property not appropriate to its superclass.

·     It serves as a merging point of two CIDOC CRM class branches via multiple IsA (e.g., E25 Human-Made Feature). When the branch superclasses are used for multiple instantiation of an item, this item is in the intersection of the scopes. The class resulting from multiple IsA should be narrower in scope than the intersection of the scopes of the branch superclasses.

·     It is useful as a leaf class (i.e., at the end of a CIDOC CRM branch) to domain communities building CIDOC CRM extensions or matching key domain classes from other models to the CIDOC CRM (e.g., E34 Inscription).

Monotonicity

The CIDOC CRM’s primary function is to support the meaningful integration of information in an Open World. The adoption of the Open World principle means that the CIDOC CRM itself must remain fundamentally open and knowledge bases implemented using it should be flexible enough to receive new insights. At the model level, new classes and properties within the CIDOC CRM’s scope may be found in the course of integrating more documentation records or when new kinds of relevant facts come to the attention of its maintainers. At the level of the KBs, the need to add or revise information may arise due to numerous external factors. Research may open new questions; documentation may be directed to new or different phenomena; natural or social evolution may reveal new objects of study.

It is the aim of the maintainers of the CIDOC CRM to respect the Open World principle and to follow the principle of monotonicity. Monotonicity requires that adding new classes and properties to the model or adding new statements to a knowledge base does not invalidate already modelled structures and existing statements.

A first consequence of this commitment, at the level of the model, is that the CIDOC CRM aims to be monotonic in the sense of Domain Theory. That is to say, the existing CIDOC CRM constructs and the deductions made from them should remain valid and well-formed, even as new constructs are added by extensions to the CIDOC CRM. Any extensions should be, under this method, backwards compatible with previous models. The only exception to this rule arises when a previous construct is considered objectively incorrect by the domain experts and thus subjected to corrective revision. Adopting the principle of monotonicity has active consequences for the basic manner in which classes and properties are designed and declared in the CIDOC CRM. In particular, it forbids the declaration of complement classes, i.e., classes solely defined by excluding instances of some other classes.

For example:

FRBRoo (Bekiari et al (eds). 2015) extends the CIDOC CRM. In version 2.4 of FRBRoo, F51 Name Use Activity was declared as a subclass to the CIDOC CRM class E7 Activity. This class was added in order to describe a phenomenon specific to library practice and not considered within CRM base. F51 Name Use Activity describes the practice of an instance of E74 Group adopting and deploying a name within a context for a time-span. The creation of this extension is monotonic because no existing IsA relationship or inheritance of properties in CRM base are compromised and no future extension is ruled out. By way of contrast, if, to handle this situation, a subclass “Other Activity” had been declared, a non-monotonic change would have been introduced. This would be the case because the scope note of a complement class like “Other Activities” would forbid any future declaration of specializations of E7 Activity such as ‘Name Use Activity’. In the case the need arose to declare a particular specialized subclass, a non-monotonic revision would have to be made, since there would be no principled way to decide which instances of ‘Other Activity’ were instances of the new, specialized class and which were not. Such non-monotonic changes are extremely costly to end users, compromising backwards compatibility and long-term integration.

As a second consequence, maintaining monotonicity is also required during revising or augmenting data within a CIDOC CRM compatible system. That is, existing CIDOC CRM instances, their properties and the deductions made from them, should always remain valid and well-formed, even as new instances, regarded as consistent by the domain expert, are added to the system.

For example:

If someone describes correctly that an item is an instance of E19 Physical Object, and later it is correctly characterized as an instance of E20 Biological Object, the system should not stop treating it as an instance of E19 Physical Object. This is achieved by declaring E20 Biological Object as subclass of E19 Physical Object.

This example further demonstrates that the IsA hierarchy of classes and properties can represent characteristic stages of increasing knowledge about some item during the processes of investigation and collection of evidence. Higher level classes can be used to safely classify objects whose precise characteristics are not known in the first instance. An ambiguous biological object may, for example, be classified as only a physical object. Subsequent investigation can reveal its nature as a biological object. A knowledge base constructed with CIDOC CRM classes designed to support monotonic revision allows for seeking physical objects that were not yet recognized as biological ones. This ability to integrate information with different specificity of description in a well-defined way is particularly important for large-scale information integration. Such a system supports scholars being able to integrate all information about potentially relevant phenomena into the information system without forcing an over or under commitment to knowledge about the object. Since large scale information integration always deals with different levels of knowledge of its relevant objects, this feature enables a consistent approach to data integration.

A third consequence, applied at the level of the knowledge base, is that in order to formally preserve monotonicity, when it is required to record and store alternative opinions regarding phenomena all formally defined properties should be implemented as unconstrained (many: many) so that conflicting instances of properties are merely accumulated. Thus, integrated knowledge can serve as a research tool for accumulating relevant alternative opinions around well-defined entities, whereas conclusions about the truth are the task of open-ended scientific or scholarly hypothesis building.

For example:

King Arthur’s basic life events are highly contested. Once entered in a knowledge base, he should be defined as an instance of E21 Person and treated as having existed as such within the sense of our historical discourse. The instance of E21 Person is used as the collection point for describing possible properties and existence of this individual. Alternative opinions about properties, such as the birthplace and his living places, should be accumulated without validity decisions being made during data compilation. King Arthur may be entered as a different instance, of E28 Conceptual Object, for describing him as mythological character and accumulating possibly mythological facts.

The fourth consequence of monotonicity relates to the use of time dependent properties in a knowledge base. Certain properties declared in the CIDOC CRM, such as having a part, an owner or a location, may change many times for a single item during the course of its existence. Asserting that such a property holds for some item means that that property held for some particular, undetermined time-span within the course of its existence. Consequently, one item may be the subject of multiple statements asserting the instantiation of that property without conflict or need for revision. The collection of such statements would reflect an aggregation of these instances of this property holding over the time-span of the item’s existence. If a more specific temporal knowledge is required/available, it is recommended to explicitly describe the events leading to the assertion of that property for that item. For example, in the case of acquiring or losing an item, it would be appropriate to declare the related event class such as E9 Move. By virtue of this principle, the CRM achieves monotonicity with respect to an increase of knowledge about the states of an item at different times, regardless of their temporal order.

Time-neutral properties may be specialized in a future monotonic extension by time-specific properties, but not vice-versa. Also, many properties registered do not change over time or are relative to events in the model already. Therefore, the CIDOC CRM always gives priority to modelling properties as time-neutral, and rather representing changes by events.

However, for some of these properties many databases may describe a “current” state relative to some property, such as “current location” or “current owner”. Using such a “current” state means that the database manager is able to verify the respective reality at the latest date of validity of the database. Obviously, this information is non-monotonic, i.e., it requires deletion when the state changes. In order to preserve a reduced monotonicity, these properties have time-neutral superproperties by which respective instances can be reclassified if the validity becomes unknown or no longer holds. Therefore, the use of such properties in the CRM is only recommended if they can be maintained consistently. Otherwise, they should be reclassified by their time-neutral superproperties. This holds in particular if data is exported to another repository, see also the paragraph “Authorship of Knowledge Base Contents”

Disjointness

Classes are disjoint if they cannot share any common instances at any time, past, present or future. That implies that it is not possible to instantiate an item using a combination of classes that are mutually disjoint or with subclasses of them (see “multiple instantiation” in section “Terminology”). There are many examples of disjoint classes in the CIDOC CRM.

A comprehensive declaration of all possible disjoint class combinations afforded by the CIDOC CRM has not been provided here; it would be of questionable practical utility, and may easily become inconsistent with the goal of providing a concise definition. However, there are two key examples of disjoint class pairs that are fundamental to effective comprehension of the CIDOC CRM:

·     E2 Temporal Entity is disjoint from E77 Persistent Item. Instances of the class E2 Temporal Entity are perdurants, whereas instances of the class E77 Persistent Item are endurants. Even though instances of E77 Persistent Item have a limited existence in time, they are fundamentally different in nature from instances of E2 Temporal Entity, because they preserve their identity between events. Declaring endurants and perdurants as disjoint classes is consistent with the distinctions made in data structures that fall within the CIDOC CRM’s practical scope.

·     E18 Physical Thing is disjoint from E28 Conceptual Object. The distinction is between material and immaterial items, the latter being exclusively human-made. Instances of E18 Physical Thing and E28 Conceptual Object differ in many fundamental ways; for example, the production of instances of E18 Physical Thing implies the incorporation of physical material, whereas the production of instances of E28 Conceptual Object does not. Similarly, instances of E18 Physical Thing cease to exist when destroyed, whereas an instance of E28 Conceptual Object perishes when it is forgotten or its last physical carrier is destroyed.


 

 

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Introduction to the basic concepts

The following paragraphs explain the most general logic of the CIDOC CRM. The CIDOC CRM is a formalized representation of historical discourse, a formal ontology. In this capacity, it is meant to support the (re)presentation of fact based, analytic discourse about what has happened in the past in a human understandable and machine-processable manner.  It achieves this function by proposing a series of formalized properties (relations) and classes. The formalized properties support the making of semantically explicit statements relating classes of things. Their formal definition logically explicates the classes of things to which they may pertain. The CIDOC CRM properties thus enable a formal, logically explicit description of relations between individual, real world items, classified under distinct ontological classes. Encoding analytic data pertaining to the past under such a system of statements provides a standard representation for data and allows the uniform application of reasoning to large sets of data.

Grounding this high-level logic is a hierarchical system of classes and relations, that provide basic ontological distinctions by which to represent historical discourse. Familiarity with the basic ontological distinctions made in the top level of the class hierarchy provides the basic entry point to understanding how to apply the CIDOC CRM for knowledge representation.

The highest-level distinction in the CIDOC CRM is represented by the top-level concepts of E77 Persistent Item, equivalent to the philosophical notion of endurant; E2 Temporal Entity, equivalent to the philosophical notion of perdurant and, further, the concept of E92 Spacetime Volume.

As an event-centric model, supporting historical discourse, the CIDOC CRM firstly enables the description of entities that are themselves time-limited processes or evolutions within the passing of time using E2 Temporal Entity and its subclasses. Their basic function is to capture the fact of something having happened over time. In addition to allowing the description of a temporal duration, the subclasses of E2 Temporal Entity are used to document the historical relations between objects, similar to the role of action verbs in a natural language phrase. The more specific subclasses of E2 Temporal Entity enable the documentation of events pertaining to individually related/affected material, social or mental objects that have been described using subclasses of E77 Persistent Item. This precise documentation is enabled through the use of specialized properties formalizing the manner of the relation or affect. Examples of specific subclasses of E2 Temporal Entity include E12 Production, which allows the representation of events of making things by humans, and E5 Event which allows the documentation, among other things, of geological events and large-scale social events such as a war. Each of these subclasses have specific properties associated to them which allow them to function to represent the specific, real world connection between instances of E77 Persistent Item, such as the relation of an object to its time of production through P108 was produced by (E12) or the relation of a place to a geological phenomenon through P7 was place of (E5). The entities that E2 Temporal Entity documents, being time limited processes / occurrences, are such that their existence can be declared only on the basis of direct observation or recording of the event, or indirect observation of its material outcomes. Evidence of such entities may be preserved on material objects that are permanently changed because of them. Likewise, events may have been recorded in text or remembered through oral history. E2 Temporal Entity and its subclasses are central to the CRM and essential for almost all modelling tasks (e.g., in a museum catalogue one cannot consider an object outside its production event).

The real-world entities, which the event centric modelling of the CIDOC CRM aims to enable the accurate historical description of, are captured through E77 Persistent Item and its subclasses.  E77 Persistent Item is used to describe entities that are relatively stable in form through the passage of time, maintaining a recognizable identity because their significant properties do not change. Specific subclasses of E77 Persistent Item can illustrate this point.  E22 Human-Made Object is used for the description of discrete, physical objects having been produced by human action, such as an artwork or monument. An artwork or monument is persistent with regards to its physical constitution. So long as it retains its general physical form, it is said to exist and to participate in the flow of historical events. E28 Conceptual Object is also used to describe persistent items, but of a mental character. It is used to describe identifiable ideas that are named and form an object of historical discourse. Its identity conditions rely in having a carrier by which it can be recalled.  The entities described by E77 Persistent Item are prone to change through human activity, biological, geological or environmental processes, but are regarded to continue to exist and be the same just as long as such changes do not alter their basic identity (essence) as defined in the scope note of the relevant class.

The notion of identity is key in the application of CIDOC CRM. The properties and relations it provides are designed to allow the accurate historical description of the evolution of real-world items through time. This being the case, classes and properties are created in order to provide a definition, which will allow the accurate application of the classes or properties to the same real-world items by diverse users. Identity, in the sense of the CIDOC CRM, therefore, means that informed people are able to agree that they refer to the same, single thing in its distinction from others, both in its extent and over its time of existence. The criteria for such a determination should come from understanding the scope note of the respective CIDOC CRM class this thing is regarded to be an instance of, because communication via information systems may not leave space for respective clarifying dialogues between users. For example, the Great Sphinx of Giza may have lost part of its nose, but there is no question that we are still referring to the same monument as that before the damage occurred, since it continues to represent significant characteristics and distinctness from an overall shaping in the past, which is of archaeological relevance. Things lacking sufficient stability or differentiation, such as atmosphere, soil, clouds, waves, are not instances of E77 Persistent Item, and not suited for information integration. Discourse about such items may be documented with concepts of the CIDOC CRM as observations in relation to things of persistent identity, such as places.

Learning to distinguish and then interrelate instances of E77 Persistent Item (endurants) and instances of E2 Temporal Entity (perdurants) using the appropriate properties is key to the proper understanding and application of CIDOC CRM in order to formally represent analytic historical data. In the large majority of cases, the distinction this provides, and the subsequent elaboration of subclasses and properties is adequate to describe the content of database records in the cultural and scientific heritage domain. In exceptional cases, where we need to consider complex combinations of changes of spatial extent over time, the concept of spacetime (E92 Spacetime Volume) also needs to be considered. E92 Spacetime Volume describes the entities whose substance has or is an identifiable, confined geometrical extent in the material world that may vary over time, fuzzy boundaries notwithstanding. For example, the built settlement structure of the city of Athens is confined both from the point of view of time-span (from its founding until now) and from its changing geographical extent over the centuries, which may become more or less evident from current observation, historical documents and excavations. Even though E92 Spacetime Volume is an important theoretical part of the model, it can be ignored for most practical documentation and modelling tasks.

The key to the proper understanding of CIDOC CRM comes through the appropriation of its basic divisions and the logic these represent. It is important to underline that the CIDOC CRM is not intended to function as a classification system or vocabulary tool. The basic class divisions in CIDOC CRM are declared in order to be able to apply distinct properties to these classes and, in so doing, formulate precise, analytic propositions that represent historical realities. The expressive power of CIDOC CRM comes not from the application of classes to classify entities but in the documenting the interrelation of individual historical items through well-defined properties. These properties characteristically cover subjects such as relations of identifying items by names and identifiers; participation of persistent items in temporal entities; location of temporal entities and physical things in space and time; relations of observation and assessment; part-decomposition and structural properties of anything; influence of things and experiences on the activities of people and their products; reference of information objects to anything.

We explain these concepts with the help of graphical representations in the next sections.

Relations with Events

Figure 1 illustrates the minimal properties in the CIDOC CRM for documenting “what has happened”, the central pattern of the Model. Let us first consider the class E1 CRM Entity, the formal top class of the model. It primarily serves a technical purpose to aggregate the ontologically meaningful concepts of the model. It declares however two important properties of general validity and distinct features of the Model: P1 is identified by, with range E41 Appellation, makes the fundamental ontological distinction between the identity of a particular and an identifier (see section “Reality, Knowledge Bases and CIDOC CRM” above), and in practice allows for describing a discourse about resolving historical ambiguities of names and reconciliation of multiple identifiers. The property P2 has type, with range E55 Type, constitutes a practical interface for refining classes by terminologies, being often volatile, as detailed in the section “About Types” below.

Figure 1:  High Level Properties and Classes of CIDOC CRM

All classes in figure 1 are direct or indirect subclasses of E1 CRM Entity, but for better readability, only the “subclass of” -link from E2 Temporal Entity is shown. The latter comprises phenomena that continuously occur over some time-span (E52 Time-Span) in the natural time dimension, but some of them may not be confined to specific area, such as a marriage status. Further specializing, E4 Period comprises phenomena occurring in addition within a specific area in the physical space, which can be specified by P7 took place at, with range E53 Place. Instances of E4 Period can be of any size, such as the Warring States Period, the Roman Period, a siege or just the process of making a signature. Further specializing, E5 Event comprises phenomena involving and affecting certain instances of E77 Persistent Item in a way characteristic of the kind of process, which can be specified by the property P12 occurred in the presence of. This concept of presence is very powerful: It constrains the existence of the involved things to the respective places within the specified time and implies the potential of passive or active involvement and mutual impact. Via presence, events represent nodes in a network of things meeting in various combinations in the course of time at different places.

The most important specializations of E77 Persistent Item in this context are: E39 Actor, those capable of intentional actions, E18 Physical Thing, having an identity bound to a relative stability of material form, and E28 Conceptual Object, the idealized things that can be recognized but have an identity independent from the materialization on a specific carrier. The property P12 occurred in the presence of has 36 direct and indirect subproperties, relating these and many more subclasses of E5 Event and E77 Persistent Item. Regardless whether a CRM-compatible knowledge base is created with these properties only or with their much more expressive specializations, querying for the five high-level properties in figure 1 will provide answer to all “Who-When-Where-What-How” questions, and allow for retrieving potentially richly elaborated stories of people, places, times and things.

This pattern of “meeting” is complemented by two more subclasses of E5 Event: E63 Beginning of Existence and E64 End of Existence, which imply not only presence, but constitute the endpoints of existence of things and people in space and time, often in explicit presence and interaction with others, be they causal by producing or consuming or just witnessing. Note that the Model supports multiple instantiation. As a consequence, particular events can be instances of combinations of these and other classes, describing tightly integrated processes of multiple nature. The representation of things connected in events by presence, beginning and end of existence is sufficient to describe the logic of termini postquos and antequos, a major form of reasoning about chronology in historical studies.

Example:

As a simple, real example of applying the above concepts we present a historical event, relevant for the history of art: Johann-Joachim Winkelmann (a German Scholar) has seen the so-called Laocoön Group in 1755 in the Vatican in Rome (at display in the Cortile del Belvedere). He described his impressions in 1764 in his “History of the Art of Antiquity”, (being the first to articulate the difference between Greek, Greco-Roman and Roman art, characterizing Greek art with the famous words “…noble simplicity, silent grandeur”). The sculpture, in Hellenistic "Pergamene baroque" style (Bieber 1961, Brilliant 2000) is widely assumed to be a copy, made between 27 BC and 68 AD (following a Roman commission) from a Greek (no more extent) original. Johann-Joachim Winkelmann was born 1717 as child of Martin Winkelmann and Anna-Maria Meyer and died in 1768 in Trieste.

Figure 2 presents a semantic graph of this event, as described above, using CIDOC CRM concepts. The facts in parentheses above are omitted for better clarity. Instances of classes are represented by informative labels instead of identifiers, in boxes showing the class label above the instance label. Properties are represented as arrows with the property label attached. After class labels and property labels, we show in parenthesis the identifiers of the respective superclasses and superproperties from figure 1, in order to demonstrate that the story can be represented and queried with these concepts only. It also shows how concept specialization increases expressiveness without losing genericity. It is noteworthy that the transfer of information from the Greek original, to the copy, to the mind of Winkelmann and into his writings can be solely understood by this chain of things being present in different meetings. Note also that the degree to which a fact is believed to be real does not affect the choice of CIDOC CRM concepts for description of the fact, nor the reality concept underlying the Model.

Figure 2: CIDOC CRM Encoding Example (Winkelmann seeing Laocoön)

Figure 2 represents in addition one more top-level property of the CIDOC CRM: P67 refers to, which describe an evidence-based fact that an information object makes reference to an identifiable item.

As mentioned above, the central concept of the CIDOC CRM is the representation of a part of reality that can be approximated as a network of things meeting in various combinations in spacetime. Using the same example from above, figure 3 illustrates this concept via an alternative symbolic representation. It aims at rendering the idea that people and things in the past have performed mostly unknown trajectories in spacetime and the historical facts known to us constrain their possible whereabouts for some limited time-spans to having been together at some known or unknown place.

We use a one-dimensional representation of space, as used in archaeology to describe the spatial  evolution of periods or cultures over time, and a vertical time axis. We symbolize the trajectories of things and people as fuzzy lines between events in order to render their relative indeterminacy between known events. Non-animate things use to be stationary if not transferred, whereas people may move around on their own.  We symbolize events as fuzzy ovals to render the fuzzy boundaries of events in space and time. Note that in this representation, as a general pattern, things may “survive” events, emerge from events or end in events. Beginning and ending of existence impose an additional temporal order on events of causal nature, which can be stronger than explicit dates. We symbolize the unreported ends of existence of people and things, which are also events, by a dot at the end of the trajectory.

Figure 3: Symbolic Representation of "Winkelmann seeing Laocoön" as an Evolution in Space and Time

In the following, we give an overview of the system of spatial and temporal relations in the CIDOC CRM, because it constitutes an important tool for precise documentation of the past and has a certain complexity that needs to be understood in a synopsis.

Spatial Relations

A major area of documentation and historical research centres around positioning in space of what has happened and the things involved, as well as reasoning about respective spatial relations. The key class CIDOC CRM provides for modelling this information is E53 Place. E53 Place is used to document geometric extents in the physical space containing actual or possible positions of things or happenings.  The higher-level properties and classes of CIDOC CRM that centre around E53 Place allow for the documentation of: relations between places; recording the geometric expressions defining or approximating a place and their semantic function; tracing the history of locations of a physical object; identifying the places where an individual or group have been located; identifying places on a physical object and the spatial extent of certain temporal entities.

Geometric Expressions of Place: Contemporary documentation of spatial information has access to advanced equipment for accurately recording location and libraries of georeferenced place information. For this reason, documentation of place now often includes the recording of precise coordinates for a referenced place. Of great importance semantically, is to understand the manner in which such a geometric place expression actually relates to a referenced place. The cluster or relations P168 place is defined by, P171 at some place within, and P172 contains allows the user to link to geometric place expressions while also accurately indicating how this expression relates to the documented place. Geometric place expressions are instances of E94 Space Primitive, a primitive class for expressing values in data systems not further analysed in the CIDOC CRM. These properties provide a valid interface to the OGC standards, as elaborated in CRMgeo (Doerr & Hiebel 2013).

Figure 4: Basic CIDOC CRM Properties and Classes for Reasoning about Spatial Information

Relations between Places: The cluster of relations P89 falls within (contains), P122 borders with, P121 overlaps with and P189 approximates can express relative relationships held between places. These properties hold between instances of E53 Place and allow interordering places using common mereotopological concepts.

History of Object Locations: Instances of place are often referenced in order to record the location of some object. When the movement of the object to different locations through time is of interest, it is also important to be able to analytically record the different locations at which an object was and at what point. The CIDOC CRM offers two top level mechanisms for tracing the relation of objects to places. If the aspect of time is unknown or not of interest, then an object can be related to a place through the properties P53 has former or current location and P55 has current location. The former property is the conservatively appropriate choice for documenting the object-to-place relation when time elements are not known. If one is actively tracking current location, the latter property is also of use. When an accurate history of the temporal aspect of location should be provided, the user should take advantage of the class E9 Move, a temporal entity class. Instantiating E9 Move allows the user to document the origin, destination and concerned object of a move event using the collection of properties P27 moved from, P26 moved to, P25 moved. Being a temporal class E9 Move further allows the tracing of time, agency etc. Note that things may be moved indirectly as parts of or within other things.

Actor Locations: Tracking the history of the location of actors is related to the history of object location with a significant difference: in the CIDOC CRM an actor is defined as an entity featuring agency which is not the case in objects and physical entities in general. Not being physical, an actor cannot be the subject of an instance of E9 Move which documents physical relocations. The CIDOC CRM thus offers the notion of P74 has current or former residence in order to document the relation of a person or group to a location as residing there at some time.

Places on a Physical Object: In the recording of cultural heritage and other scientific data, particularly about mobile objects, including ships, it is often necessary to identify where on an object or a certain feature is located and where a certain phenomenon is observed. For this the CIDOC CRM offers the relation P59 has section relating the object to the places which are defined upon it. Note that Earth is the physical object we relate places to per default. In geological times, a narrower relation to a tectonic plate may be necessary.

Spatial Extent of Temporal Entities: In order to spatially define the extent of temporal phenomena, the CIDOC CRM offers two properties that apply to all instances of temporal entity under the class E4 Period: P7 took place at and P8 took place on or within. The former is used to relate a temporal phenomenon directly to an instance of E53 Place which provides the geometric context in which that phenomenon took place. The latter property allows the documentation of a temporal phenomenon taking place in relation to a physical object. This is useful for recording information such as the occurrence of an event on a moving ship or within a particular storage container, where the geometric location is not known or indirectly relevant.

Temporal Relations

Historical and scientific discourse about the past deals with different levels of knowledge regarding events and their temporal ordering that feed into chronology. Chronology is fundamental to understanding social and natural history, and reasoning about temporal relations and causality is directly related. An immense wealth of physical observations allows for inferring temporal relations and vice-versa. It is important to be able to document temporality both with regards to known dates but also according to relative positioning within a historical time line. The top-level properties of the CIDOC CRM relating to temporal entities support the documentation of: dates as time-spans or dimensions, mereological relations between temporal entities as well as a complete suite of topological relations.

Dates and Durations: When some absolute dates limiting a temporal entity are known, this can be documented by instantiating the P4 has time-span property and creating an instance of E52 Time-span. Dates should then be recorded as instances of E61 Time Primitive and related to the time-span through properties P81 ongoing throughout or P82 at some time within. Time is recorded as a span and not an instant in the CIDOC CRM. The choice of property P81 ongoing throughout allows the documentation of knowledge that a temporal phenomenon was occurring at least at all points of a known time-span. The property P82 at some time within allows the weaker claim that the phenomenon must have occurred within the limits of a particular time-span without further specifying as to when precisely. It is the default for historical dates, given, for instance, in years for events of much smaller duration. The actual mode of encoding the documented date is outside the scope of the CIDOC CRM, which defines this with a primitive class, E61 Time Primitive. Finally, the property P191 had duration can be deployed in order to document a temporal phenomenon with known duration but with less precisely temporal positioning. For instance, a birth may be known with the precision of a year, but with a duration of 3 hours. For documenting exact time-spans that are result of a declaration rather than observation, for instance in order to describe a time-span multiple events may fall into, the property P170 defines time allows for specifying the time-span uniquely by a temporal primitive, rather than by P81 ongoing throughout or P82 at some time within using an identical time primitive.  

Figure 5: Basic CIDOC CRM Properties and Classes for Reasoning about Temporal Information

Mereological relations: The documentation of the part-whole relationship of temporal phenomena is crucial for historical reasoning. The CIDOC CRM distinguishes under temporal entities two immediate specializations: E4 Period is a high-level concept for the documentation of temporal phenomena of change and interactions in space and time, comprising but not limited to historical periods such as Ming or Roman, and is further specialized in rich hierarchy of more specific processes and activities. The second specialization is E3 Condition State, a rather specific class for the documentation of static phases of physical things. The CIDOC CRM so far does not describe a higher-level class of static phases, because they are normally deductions from multiple observations, problematic in information integration and vulnerable to non-monotonic revision. For both classes, two different mereological relations are articulated: The property P9 consists of is used to document proper parthood between instances of E4 Period, i.e., to describe how the phenomena that make up an instance of E4 Period can causally be subdivided into more delimited phenomena. In contrast, the property P10 falls within, explained further in the section about spatiotemporal relations, describes only a non-causal co-occurrence in the same spatiotemporal extent. The property P5 consists of indicates, in analogy, proper parthood between instances of E3 Condition State.

Topological Relations: A lot of semantic relations have implications on the temporal ordering of temporal entities. For instance, meeting someone must occur after birth and before death of the involved parties. Information can only be transferred after it has been learned. On the other side, direct information about temporal order has implications on possible or impossible semantic relations. This form of reasoning is of paramount importance for research about the past. It turned out that the popular temporal relations defined by (Allen, 1983), which the CIDOC CRM had adopted in previous versions, are not well suited to describe inferences from semantic relations, as detailed in the section “Temporal Relation Primitives based on fuzzy boundaries” below. Instead, the CIDOC CRM introduces a theory of fuzzy boundaries in time that enables the accurate interpositioning of temporal entities between themselves taking into account the inherent fuzziness of temporal boundaries. This model subsumes the earlier introduced Allen temporal relations which may continue to be used in extensions of the CIDOC CRM.

Spatiotemporal Relations

Treating space and time as separate entities is normally adequate for describing events and where things are. When more precise documentation and reasoning is required about phenomena spreading out over time, such as Bronze Age, a settlement, a nation, moving reference frames such as ships, things being stored in containers and moved around, built structures being partially destroyed, rebuilt and altered etc., space and time must be understood as a coherent continuum, the so-called spacetime. This is not a familiar concept for many users, and those not interested in such details may therefore skip this section.   

However, the respective model the CIDOC CRM adopts constitutes a valid interface to the OGC standards, as elaborated in CRMgeo (Doerr & Hiebel 2013) and important for connecting to GIS applications. The key class CIDOC CRM provides for modelling this information is E92 Spacetime Volume. E92 Spacetime Volume is used to document geometric extents in the physical spacetime containing actual or possible positions of things or happenings, in particular in those cases when the changes of place to be documented cannot be reduced to distinct events, because the spatial extent changes continuously. The higher-level properties and classes of CIDOC CRM that centre around E92 Spacetime Volume allow for the documentation of: relations between spacetime volumes, relations to space and time as separate entities, and treating the exact extent of physical things and periods in space at any time of their existence as spacetime volumes. Its use is particularly elegant for the description of temporal gazetteers.

Defining a Spacetime Volume: There are three ways to define a spacetime volume:

1          the property P169 defines spacetime volume should be used to declare a spatiotemporal container for some things or happenings in terms of spatial coordinates that may vary over time, be it in discrete steps or continuously with the help of spacetime expressions. The latter are instances of E95 Spacetime Primitive, a primitive class for expressing values in data systems not further analysed in the CIDOC CRM.

2          Instances of E4 Period are regarded to be specialized instances of E92 Spacetime Volume that are formed by the spreading out of the phenomena that make up an instance of E4 Period. As such they are fuzzy but in general observable.

3          The continuous sequence of spatial extent that the matter of an instance of E18 Physical Thing occupies in the course of time, defines a spacetime volume unique to it from the beginning of its existence to its end, which can also be understood as its trajectory through the universe The property P169 defines allows for referring to this spacetime volume, in order to document its additional properties. As such this spacetime volume is fuzzy but in general observable. It is not easy to make a mental picture of the spacetime volume of a physical thing, but the construct simplifies all reasoning about where things have been.

Figure 6: Basic CIDOC CRM Properties and Classes for Reasoning with Spacetime Volumes

Relations with Places and Physical Things: The property P161 has spatial projection associates a spacetime volume with the complete spatial extent it has occupied during its time-span of definition. Due to relativity of space, the definition of an instance of E53 Place must be relative to some physical thing as geometric reference. This can explicitly be documented with the property P157 is at rest relative to. If the place where something is at a certain point in time is given in multiple reference spaces in relative movement, such as with respect to a ship versus to the seafloor, these differently defined places may later move apart. Therefore, a spacetime volume, even though uniquely defined, can have any number of spatial projections, depending on the reference space. Currently, the GPS system defines a default reference space on the surface of Earth. In art conservation and other descriptions of mobile object of fixed shape, it is useful to refer to the precise place a physical thing occupies with respect to itself as reference space via P156 occupies, for further analysis. P156 occupies constitutes a particular projection of the spacetime volume of this thing. In contrast, the property P53 has former or current location only describes that a thing was within a specific place given in some reference space for an undefined time.

Relations with Time-Spans and Periods: The property P160 has temporal projection associates a spacetime volume with the complete temporal extent it has covered comprising all places of its definition. In contrast to places, the reference system of time is unique[8] except for the choice of origin. For instances of E4 Period and its subclasses, which inherit P160 has temporal projection, the property is actually identical with the property P4 has time-span inherited from E2 Temporal Entity, because is describes the temporal extent of the phenomena that make up an instance of E4 Period. Therefore, it is recommended to use P4 has time-span for instances of E4 Period and its subclasses, rather than P160 has temporal projection.

Relations of Presence: Instances of E93 Presence are specialized instances of E92 Spacetime Volume that are identical with the spatial evolution of a larger spacetime volume specified by P166 was presence of, but delimited to a, normally short, time-span declared by P164 is temporally specified by. In other words, they constitute “snapshots” or “time-slices” of another spacetime volume, such as the extent of the Roman Empire during 30AD. They are the basic construct to describe exactly where something was or happened at a particular time (-span), in connection with the property P161 has spatial projection. In particular, it allows for describing the whereabouts of mobile objects, be it in the storage of a museum, a palace, deposited in the ground, or transported in a container, such as the bone of a saint. For ease of use, a shortcut P195 was presence of is defined directly to E18 Physical Thing, bypassing the definition of its spacetime volume.

Topological Relations: Finally, the Model defines truly spatiotemporal topological relations. P10 falls within (contains) is the complete inclusion of one spacetime volume in another. It should not be confused with inclusion in the spatial and temporal projection, which may be larger. E.g., in 14 AD, Mesopotamia was not within the Roman Empire. Further, the properties P132 spatiotemporally overlaps with and its negation P133 is spatiotemporally separated from are fundamental to argue about temporary parthood, possible continuity etc.

Specific Modelling Constructs

About Types

Virtually all structured descriptions of museum objects begin with a unique object identifier and information about the "type" of the object, often in a set of fields with names like "Classification", "Category", "Object Type", "Object Name", etc. All these fields are used for terms that declare that the object belongs to a particular category of items. In the CIDOC CRM the class E55 Type comprises such terms from thesauri and controlled vocabularies used to characterize and classify instances of CIDOC CRM classes.  Instances of E55 Type represent concepts (universals) in contrast to instances of E41 Appellation, which are used to name instances of CIDOC CRM classes.

For this purpose, the CIDOC CRM provides two basic properties that describe classification with terminology, corresponding to what is the current practice in the majority of information systems. The class E1 CRM Entity is the domain of the property P2 has type (is type of), which has the range E55 Type. Consequently, every class in the CIDOC CRM, with the exception of E59 Primitive Value, inherits the property P2 has type (is type of). This provides a general alternative mechanism to specialize the classification of CIDOC CRM instances to any level of detail, by linking to external vocabulary sources, thesauri, classification schemas or ontologies.

Analogous to the function of the P2 has type (is type of) property, some properties in the CIDOC CRM are associated with an additional property. These are numbered in the CIDOC CRM documentation with a ‘.1’ extension. The range of these properties of properties always falls under E55 Type. The purpose of a property of a property is to provide an alternative mechanism to specialize its domain property through the use of property subtypes declared as instances of E55 Type. They do not appear in the property hierarchy list but are included as part of the property declarations and referred to in the class declarations. For example, P62.1 mode of depiction: E55 Type is associated with E24 Physical Man-made Thing. P62 depicts (is depicted by): E1 CRM Entity.

The class E55 Type also serves as the range of properties that relate to categorical knowledge commonly found in cultural documentation. For example, the property P125 used object of type (was type of object used in) enables the CIDOC CRM to express statements such as “this casting was produced using a mould”, meaning that there has been an unknown or unmentioned object, a mould, that was actually used. This enables the specific instance of the casting to be associated with the entire type of manufacturing devices known as moulds. Further, the objects of type “mould” would be related via P2 has type (is type of) to this term. This indirect relationship may actually help in detecting the unknown object in an integrated environment. On the other side, some casting may refer directly to a known mould via P16 used specific object (was used for).  So, a statistical question to how many objects in a certain collection are made with moulds could be answered correctly (following both paths through P16 used specific object (was used for) - P2 has type (is type of) and P125 used object of type (was type of object used in). This consistent treatment of categorical knowledge enhances the CIDOC CRM’s ability to integrate cultural knowledge.

Types, that is, instances of E55 Type and its subclasses, can be used to characterize the instances of a CIDOC CRM class and hence refine the meaning of the class.  A type ‘artist’ can be used to characterize persons through P2 has type (is type of).  On the other hand, in an art history application of the CIDOC CRM it can be adequate to extend the CIDOC CRM class E21 Person with a subclass E21.xx Artist. What is the difference of the type ‘artist’ and the class Artist? From an everyday conceptual point of view there is no difference. Both denote the concept ‘artist’ and identify the same set of persons. Thus, in this setting a type could be seen as a class and the class of types may be seen as a metaclass.  Since current systems do not provide an adequate control of user defined metaclasses, the CIDOC CRM prefers to model instances of E55 Type as if they were particulars, with the relationships described in the previous paragraphs.

Users may decide to implement a concept either as a subclass extending the CIDOC CRM class system or as an instance of E55 Type. A new subclass should only be created in case the concept is sufficiently stable and associated with additional explicitly modelled properties specific to it. Otherwise, an instance of E55 Type provides more flexibility of use. Users that may want to describe a discourse not only using a concept extending the CIDOC CRM but also describing the history of this concept itself, may choose to model the same concept both as subclass and as an instance of E55 Type with the same name. Similarly, it should be regarded as good practice to foresee for each term hierarchy refining a CIDOC CRM class a term equivalent of this class as top term. For instance, a term hierarchy for instances of E21 Person may begin with “Person”.

One role of E55 Type is to be the CIDOC CRM’s interface to domain specific ontologies and thesauri or less formal terminological systems. Such sets of concepts can be represented in the CIDOC CRM as subclasses of E55 Type, forming hierarchies of terms, i.e., instances of E55 Type linked via P127 has broader term (has narrower term). Such hierarchies may be extended with additional properties. Other standard models, in particular richer ones, used to describe terminological systems can also be interfaced with the CIDOC CRM by declaring their respective concept class as being equivalent to E55 Type, and their respective broader/narrower relation as being identical with P127 has broader term (has narrower term), as long as they are semantically compatible.

In addition to being an interface to external thesauri and classification systems, E55 Type is an ordinary class in the CIDOC CRM and a subclass of E28 Conceptual Object. E55 Type and its subclasses inherit all properties from this superclass.  Thus, together with the CIDOC CRM class E83 Type Creation the rigorous scholarly or scientific process that ensures a type is exhaustively described and appropriately named can be modelled inside the CIDOC CRM. In some cases, particularly in archaeology and the life sciences, E83 Type Creation requires the identification of an exemplary specimen and the publication of the type definition in an appropriate scholarly forum. This is very central to research in the life sciences, where a type would be referred to as a “taxon,” the type description as a “protologue,” and the exemplary specimens as “original element” or “holotype”.

Finally, instances of E55 Type or suitable subclasses can describe universals from type systems not organized in thesauri or ontologies, such as industrial product names and types, defined and published by the producers themselves for each new product or product variant.

Temporal Relation Primitives based on fuzzy boundaries

It is characteristic for sciences dealing with the past, such as history, archaeology or geology, to derive temporal topological relations from stratigraphic and other observations and from considerations of causality between events. For this reason, the CIDOC CRM introduced in version 3.3 the whole set of temporal relationships of Allen’s temporal logic (the now deprecated properties P114 to P120). It was regarded at that time as a well-justified, exhaustive and sufficient theory to deal with temporal topological relationships of spatiotemporal phenomena relevant to cultural historical discourse. Allen’s temporal logic is based on the assumption of known, exact endpoints of time intervals (time-spans), described by an exhaustive set of mutually exclusive relationships.

Since many temporal relations can be inferred from facts causal to them, e.g., a birth necessarily occurring before any intentional interaction of a person with other individuals, or from observations of material evidence without knowing the absolute time, the temporal relationships pertain in the CIDOC CRM to E2 Temporal Entities, and not their Time-Spans, which require knowledge of absolute time. If absolute times are known, deduction of Allen’s relation is a simple question of automated calculus and not the kind of primary scientific insight the CIDOC CRM, as a core model, is interested in. However, their application turned out to be problematic in practice for two reasons:

Firstly, facts causal to temporal relationships result in expressions that often require a disjunction (logical OR condition) of Allen’s relationships. For instance, a child may be stillborn. Ignoring states at pregnancy as it is usual in older historical sources, birth may be equal to death, meet with death or be before death. The knowledge representation formalism chosen for the CIDOC CRM however does not allow for specifying disjunctions, except within queries. Consequently, simple properties of the CIDOC CRM that imply a temporal order, such as P134 continued, cannot be declared as subproperties of the temporal relationship they do imply, which would be, in this case: “before, meets, overlaps, starts, started-by, contains, finishes, finished-by, equals, during or overlapped by” (see P174 starts before the end of). 

Secondly, nature does not allow us to observe equality of points in time. There are three possible interpretations to this fact. Common to all three interpretations is that they can be described in terms of fuzzy boundaries. The model proposed here is consistent with all three of these interpretations.

1          Any observable phenomenon that can be dated has a natural temporal extent with fuzzy boundaries of gradual transition from not existing to definitely existing and then to no longer existing.

2          These fuzzy boundaries can also be interpreted as the time intervals about which experts, even with a complete knowledge of the described phenomenon, may not agree as to whether this phenomenon is already ongoing or not, or still ongoing or not.

3          Under a third interpretation, the fact that an instance of E2 Temporal Entity is ongoing is not observable within the fuzzy boundaries.

Consider, for instance, a birth. Extending over a limited and non-negligible duration in the scale of hours it begins and ends gradually (1), but can be given alternative scientific definitions of start and end points (2), and neither of these can be determined with a precision much smaller than on a scale of minutes (3). The fuzzy boundaries do not describe the relation of incomplete or imprecise knowledge to reality. Assuming a lowest granularity in time is an approach which does not help, because the relevant extent of fuzziness varies at a huge scale even in cultural reasoning, depending on the type of phenomena considered. The only exact match is between arbitrarily declared time intervals, such as the end of a year being equal to the beginning of the next year, or that “Early Minoan” ends exactly when “Middle Minoan” starts, whenever that might have been. Consequently, we introduce here a new set of “temporal relation primitives” with the following characteristics:

·     It is a minimal set of properties that allows for specifying all possible relations between two time intervals given by their start and end points, either directly, or by conjunction (logical AND condition) of the latter.

·     Start and end points are interpreted as “thick” fuzzy boundaries as described above.

·     Conditions of equality of end points are relaxed to the condition that the fuzzy boundaries overlap. Therefore, knowledge of the shape of the fuzzy function is not needed.

·     All of Allen’s relationships can be expressed either directly or by conjunctions of these properties.

·     In case of time intervals without or with negligibly short fuzzy boundaries, all of Allen’s relationships can exactly be described by adequate conjunctions of these properties.

·     No relationship is equal to the inverse of another. Inverses are specified by exchanging the roles of domain and range.

Notation

We use the following notation:

Comparing two instances of E2 Temporal Entity, we denote one with capital letter A, its (fuzzy) starting time with Astart and its (fuzzy) ending time with Aend, such that A = [Astart,Aend]; we denote the other with capital letter B, its (fuzzy) starting time with Bstart and its (fuzzy) ending time with Bend, such that B = [Bstart,Bend].

We identify a temporal relation with a predicate name (label) and define it by one or more (in)equality expressions between its end points, such as:

A starts before the end of B if and only if () Astart < Bend

We visualize a temporal relation symbolizing the temporal extents of two instances A and B of E2 Temporal Entity as horizontal bars, considered to be on a horizontal time-line proceeding from left to right. The fuzzy boundary areas are symbolized by an increasing/decreasing colour gradient. The different choices of relative arrangement the relationship allows for are symbolized by two extreme allowed positions of instance A with respect to instance B connected by arrows. The reader may imagine it as the relative positions of a train A approaching a station B. If the relative length of A compared to B matters, two diagrams are provided.

Figure 7: Explanation of Interior and Boundary and an Example of Use from P174 starts before the end of (ends after the start of).

Overview of Temporal Relation Primitives

The final set of temporal relation primitives can be separated into two groups:

1          Those based on improper inequalities, such as Astart ≤ Bend (odd number items in the list below- table 2).

2          Those based on proper inequalities, such as Astart < Bend (even number items in the list below- table 2).

Improper inequalities with fuzzy boundaries are understood as extending into situations in which the fuzzy boundaries of the respective endpoints may overlap. In other words, they include situations in which it cannot be decided when one interval has ended and when the other started, but there is no knowledge of a definite gap between these endpoints. In a proper inequality with fuzzy boundaries, the fuzzy boundaries of the respective endpoints must not overlap, i.e., there is knowledge of a definite gap between these endpoints, for instance, a discontinuity between settlement phases based on the observation of archaeological layers.

Table 2: Temporal Relation Primitives

 

Property

Interpretation

1

P173 starts before or with the end of

 

Astart ≤ Bend

2

P174 starts before the end of

Astart < Bend

 

3

P175 starts before or with the start of

Astart ≤ Bstart

 

4

P176 starts before the start of

Astart < Bstart

 

5

P182 ends before or with the start of

Aend ≤ Bstart

 

6

P183 ends before the start of

Aend < Bstart

 

7

P184 ends before or with the end of

Aend ≤ Bend

 

8

P185 ends before the end of

Aend < Bend

 

 


 

Class & Property Hierarchies

Although they do not provide comprehensive definitions, compact mono-hierarchical presentations of the class and property IsA hierarchies have been found to significantly aid comprehension and navigation of the CIDOC CRM. Since the CRM is poly-hierarchical, a mono-hierarchical presentation form is achieved by a top-down expansion of all inverse IsA relations regardless whether a concept has already be presented at another place in the same hierarchy. This form is provided below.

The class hierarchy presented below has the following format:

·     Each line begins with a unique class identifier, consisting of a number preceded by the letter “E” (originally denoting “entity,” although now replaced by convention with the term “class”).

·     A series of hyphens (“-”) follows the unique class identifier, indicating the hierarchical position of the class in the IsA hierarchy.

·     The English name of the class appears to the right of the hyphens.

·     The index is ordered by hierarchical level, in a “depth first” manner, from the smaller to the larger subhierarchies.

·     Classes that appear in more than one position in the class hierarchy as a result of multiple inheritance are shown in an italic typeface.

The property hierarchy presented below has the following format:

·     Each line begins with a unique property identifier, consisting of a number preceded by the letter “P” (for “property”).

·     A series of hyphens (“-”) follows the unique property identifier, indicating the hierarchical position of the property in the IsA hierarchy.

·     The English name of the property appears to the right of the hyphens, followed by its inverse name in parentheses for reading in the range to domain direction.

·     The domain class for which the property is declared.

·     The range class that the property references.

·     The index is ordered by hierarchical level, in a “depth first” manner, from the smaller to the larger subhierarchies, and by property number between equal siblings.

·     Properties that appear in more than one position in the property hierarchy as a result of multiple inheritance are shown in an italic typeface.

CIDOC CRM Class Hierarchy

Table 3: CIDOC CRM Class Hierarchy

E1

 CRM Entity

E2

-

 Temporal Entity

E3

-

-

Condition State

E4

-

-

Period

E5

-

-

-

Event

E7

-

-

-

-

Activity

E8

-

-

-

-

-

Acquisition

E96

-

-

-

-

-

-

Purchase

E9

-

-

-

-

-

Move

E10

-

-

-

-

-

Transfer of Custody

E11

-

-

-

-

-

Modification

E12

-

-

-

-

-

-

Production

E79

-

-

-

-

-

-

Part Addition

E80

-

-

-

-

-

-

Part Removal

E13

-

-

-

-

-

Attribute Assignment

E14

-

-

-

-

-

-

Condition Assessment

E15

-

-

-

-

-

-

Identifier Assignment

E16

-

-

-

-

-

-

Measurement

E17

-

-

-

-

-

-

Type Assignment

E65

-

-

-

-

-

Creation

E83

-

-

-

-

-

-

Type Creation

E66

-

-

-

-

-

Formation

E85

-

-

-

-

-

Joining

E86

-

-

-

-

-

Leaving

E87

-

-

-

-

-

Curation Activity

E63

-

-

-

-

Beginning of Existence

E67

-

-

-

-

-

Birth

E81

-

-

-

-

-

Transformation

E12

-

-

-

-

-

Production

E65

-

-

-

-

-

Creation

E83

-

-

-

-

-

-

Type Creation

E66

-

-

-

-

-

Formation

E64

-

-

-

-

End of Existence

E6

-

-

-

-

-

Destruction

E68

-

-

-

-

-

Dissolution

E69

-

-

-

-

-

Death

E81

-

-

-

-

-

Transformation

E77

-

Persistent Item

E70

-

-

Thing

E72

-

-

-

Legal Object

E18

-

-

-

-

Physical Thing

E19

-

-

-

-

-

Physical Object

E20

-

-

-

-

-

-

Biological Object

E21

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Person

E22

-

-

-