Issue 191: Range of P31

Starting Date: 
Working Group: 

Dear All,

I received the following question:

"I tried to model link to E18.Physical_Thing from conservation treatment with the P31F.has_modified property (or sub property of P31F.has_modified) but I run into conflict because P31F.has_modified property has as range E24.Physical_Man-Made_Thing and not a E18.Physical_Thing."

Our point of view was, that Modification would render a thing man-made. I fear this is wrong. If a thing would change nature due to such an intervention, it should be regarded as a Production/transformation. This is in conflict with the definition of modification, not to change the nature of the thing.

Martin 28/7/2010 (by email)

Old Proposal: 

I propose to relax the range of P31F.has_modified to E18.Physical_Thing 28/7/2010 (by email)

Martin will find more arguments
Crete, May 2011  


Current Proposal: 

The issue remains open until we found enough evidence from the archives 

28th CRM-SIG meeting, Stockholm 7/6/2013

Posted by Martin on 26/4/2017

Dear All,

ISSUE 191 is still open, I still owe an argument. Here it is:

P31 has modified (was modified by)

Domain:                              E11 Modification

Range:                  E24 Physical Man-Made Thing

Subproperty of:       E5 Event. P12 occurred in the presence of (was present at): E77 Persistent Item

Superproperty of:    E12 Production. P108 has produced (was produced by): E24 Physical Man-Made Thing

                                E79 Part Addition. P110 augmented (was augmented by): E24 Physical Man-Made Thing

                                E80 Part Removal. P112 diminished (was diminished by): E24 Physical Man-Made Thing

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

Scope note:         This property identifies the E24 Physical Man-Made Thing modified in an E11 Modification.

If a modification is applied to a non-man-made object, it is regarded as an E22 Man-Made Object from that time onwards.

This means that E24 Physical Man-Made Thing does not carry an identity condition, but that the same Thing changes classification. That would mean that E24 is nothing else than a type or a phase. Besides the restriction to E22 being wrong, because modifying a physical feature should also result in a man-made feature.

On the other side,

E12 Production

Subclass of:         E11 Modification

                              E63 Beginning of Existence


Scope note:         This class comprises activities that are designed to, and succeed in, creating one or more new items.


It specializes the notion of modification into production. The decision as to whether or not an object is regarded as new is context sensitive. Normally, items are considered “new” if there is no obvious overall similarity between them and the consumed items and material used in their production. In other cases, an item is considered “new” because it becomes relevant to documentation by a modification. For example, the scribbling of a name on a potsherd may make it a voting token. The original potsherd may not be worth documenting, in contrast to the inscribed one.

...says that E12 marks the beginning of existence of a Man-Made Thing, albeit a light modification of previous forms:

P108 has produced (was produced by)

Domain:                              E12 Production

Range:                  E24 Physical Man-Made Thing

Subproperty of: E11 Modification. P31 has modified (was modified by): E24 Physical Man-Made Thing

                         E63 Beginning of Existence. P92 brought into existence (was brought into existence by): E77 Persistent Item

Quantification:   one to many, necessary, dependent (1,n:1,1)

Scope note:         This property identifies the E24 Physical Man-Made Thing that came into existence as a result of an E12 Production.

The quantification of P108 makes it clear that an instance of E24 must come into existence with exactly one E12 Production event.

Hence, modifying an instance of E18 Physical Thing would result in it becoming an instance of E24 without a Production event, in contradiction to the scope note of P31.

If we now regard that a non-man-made thing cannot be modified, the first Modification would have to be declared as a Production Event, in which case the Genesis process (see CRMSci) of the natural Thing could no more be associated with the object or feature. All specimen of Natural History which would not have experienced a substantial conservation treatment as mummification, would need to be loosely associated via a Transformation event to their previous state in order to describe their identity, even though scientific reasoning will be based on everything except the inventory number scribbled on it.

Further, in case of features which have no complete natural boundaries, the range of the wondrous identity change of a scratch at the periphery of a cave is not well-defined.

Finally, if we regard that the scribbling of an inventory number on the object is creating a man-made feature on a physical thing, we create an unreasonable ambiguity that this, as first human interaction, changes the identity of the whole object. On the other side, if some human finger prints where already left of a meteor stone brought into the museum, this would have priority in the mysterious identity change and the scribbling would be only the scribbling and nothing else.

Summarizing, I believe that the identity and coming into existence of a Physical Man-made thing must not be bound to the fact of an accidental or intentional Modification of any microscale - this can adequately be described as adding a man-made feature to the thing (and if not, it is indeed a production), but must be tied to the functional identity of the thing, in the same way we describe it for aggregates.

Meetings discussed: