What is the CRMtex?
CRMtex is an extension of CIDOC CRM created to support the study of ancient documents by identifying relevant textual entities and by modelling the scientific process related with the investigation of ancient texts and their features in order to foster integration with other cultural heritage research fields, such as archaeology and history. The concept of “written text”, introduced by the extension, is intended to identify a common entity consisting in a particular feature (i.e., set of glyphs) created (i.e., written) on various kinds of support, having semiotic significance and the declared purpose of conveying a specific message towards a given recipient or group of recipients. The modelling of the scientific autoptic examination of the document, consisting of an accurate analysis of the surface and the signs and prescribing the use of specific tools and procedures, is another key aspect taken into account by the extension.
CRMtex is intended to identify and define in a clear and unambiguous way the main entities involved in the study and edition of ancient handwritten texts and then to describe them by means of appropriate ontological instruments in a multidisciplinary perspective. Thus, the extension aims at introducing new classes and properties more responsive to the specific needs of the various disciplines involved, including papyrology, palaeography, codicology and epigraphy.
What is the idea?
The first written documents date back to the IV millennium BC. With the evolution of this technology, humans began to write texts on different supports using different techniques: inscriptions, papyri, manuscripts and other similar documents. Traditionally, the study of this heterogeneous documentation falls within different disciplines, generally grown around the specific physical characteristics of each class of documents (e.g., papyrology for the study of papyri and epigraphy for epigraphs). Nevertheless, an interdisciplinary approach is essential and the identification of common elements is paramount in order to confer uniformity and interoperability to all these disciplines.
The main characteristic that is observed, specifically in ancient textual documents, is the special relationship between the text and its support. In comparison to modern texts, ancient ones are characterised by their uniqueness because they are the result of manual work rather than a mechanised processes, as occurs with modern printing. In fact, even in the case of texts written by the same person on identical media and with an identical technique, such as the codices produced by scribes in European monasteries during the Middle Ages, the resulting copies are never identical since, as with any human activity, writing also happens hic et nunc, which is why our hand-writing is never completely identical with itself;
This and other similar peculiarities render particularly arduous the study and digitisation of this type of documentation: the close relationship between the text and its support requires careful analysis since they are inextricably linked to form a unique object of study.
The extension provides tools for managing this kind of complexity by defining classes and properties for describing an hand written text in all its aspects, from its creation (and/or destruction) in the past, down to its present conservation, investigation and study by scholars, including its transcription, translation, interpretation and publication.