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International Standards for Iconography

SigiDoc International Meeting III International Standards for Iconography, 8-11 July 2011


  1. 1. Goal

The goal of the meeting was to map Getty CDWA Standards on to the category list agreed in December 2010. A secondary goal was to populate some of the fields, in order to begin a controlled vocabulary.


  1. 2. Participants

Present:           Gudrun Buehl (Monday)

John Cotsonis

Joel Kalvesmaki (Friday)

Eric McGeer (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)

Scott Johnson (Monday)

Cecile Morrisson

Margaret Mullett

Vivien Prigent (Saturday, Sunday, Monday)

Jonathan Shea

Michael Sohn (Monday)

Alicia Walker (plus husband Eduardo and baby Azalea)



  1. 3. Process

Alicia Walker and John Cotsonis were commissioned by the December meeting to make a preliminary attempt to map CDWA on to our schema. This attempt appears on the SigiDoc wiki along with their initial comments. They were so thorough that they had mapped not only iconography but all our fields on to CDWA. We proceeded by

a)     Catching-up (Friday)

i)      Joel Kalvesmaki reported on Athena Ruby: by 18 July a working copy, by the congress a gamma version.

ii)    Eric and Jonathan reported that Joe Mills, the DO photographer, had begun photographing the DO seals, starting with Seals, VI, 1,100 by the time of the workshop. Some were shown, and all were very pleased with the quality.

iii)   Jonathan reported that Publications were about to hire a database specialist and that Seals were at the top of the list. At the end of July we can begin building the system, and in September begin entering.

iv)   Alicia reported that she had explored further technical issues with Michael Sohn, who would be available on Monday to discuss them with the group. The important point was that this meeting should lay down the parameters for the new system.


b) Mapping (Friday, Saturday)

of CDWA fields on to December fields, choosing relevant fields and omitting (for now) any with Museum significance

c) Mapping and Testing (Sunday)

(i)    Mapping of  December fields on to chosen CDWA categories

(ii)  Test cases with particular seals (animals, saints, scenes) to evaluate chosen categories


d) Mapping and Reviewing (Monday)

(i)    We reviewed technical aspects with Michael Sohn (drop-down menus vs a more flexible system)

(ii)  We returned to CDWA Categories 14 (Condition), 15 (Conservation), 21 (Location), 24 (Exhibition history) to get the benefit of Gudrun’s expertise

(iii) We reviewed CDWA Categories 13 (Physical Description), 16 (Subject Matter), 26 (Comparanda), 31 (Iconography), to include Gudrun’s expertise

(iv) We decided follow-up and reviewed conclusions

  1. 4. Decisions

We decided

a)     To catalogue seals as objects rather than as matrices, in contradistinction to the DO catalogues so far, but to require the system-builder to make it possible to display simultaneously all seals from the same boulloterion. We did however assign CDWA category 20 to seals from the same boulloterion as well as to similar seals, and the system-builder will need to keep these separate. We also assigned category 28 for the owner (personal or institutional) and would hope for a link to PBW here.

b)    In cataloguing to go through the obverse for each seal first (all categories) and then the reverse (all categories)

c)     To separate 13 (Decorative motifs) from 16 (Subject Matter), which can both be entered by Jonathan + interns, from 31 (Iconography), which needs specialist art historical reading, as offered by John Cotsonis, as a parallel with 8.1 (Edited reading), which will be read by sigillographers.

d)    Although the main concern of the meeting was to allow the DO cataloguing to move ahead just as soon as the system is built, CDWA 1.2 enables any other collections who may use the system in future to apply it to bread-stamps, cone seals, boulloteria, other impressions.

e)     Although the main concern of the meeting was to allow the DO cataloguing to move ahead just as soon as the system is built, it was also felt important to map object-level categories on to the Museum’s collection-management software, to provide equivalent information. It is to be hoped that this would work for other museums as well.



  1. 5. Principles

We were guided by concern for

a)     Speed of entry

b)    Ease of search

c)     Level of detail necessary in display

d)    The need to progress the DO catalogue as speedily as possible while facilitating the international SigiDoc initiative. We believe that advancing the DO catalogue is the best way to assist the world-wide community.


  1. 6. Follow-up

a)     Alicia Walker volunteered to compile three documents:

i)      The December categories with CDWA mapped on

ii)   CDWA list (see wiki) with modified December categories mapped on

iii) Selected CDWA list with December categories mapped.

All will be mounted on the wiki.


b)    Margaret Mullett and Jonathan Shea volunteered to draft minutes of bigger decisions and one page of desiderata for the system-builder.