top of page

There and back again, from artefacts to words and vice versa

ANCHISE participated to EUROPOL Online Workshop on Taxonomy on May 23, 2024.

“A picture is worth a thousand words”, some say.

There is certainly truth in that popular saying, especially regarding the protection of cultural heritage. If you were asked to describe a painting, a sculpture or any kind of artefact, you would probably not use exactly the same words than your neighbour. Imagine now a dialogue between a broad range of specialists of heritage protection, from various countries and cultures. Each one’s professional background plays a strong role in the way words can be chosen to describe an object, which sometimes may lead to misdirection, misunderstandings and, eventually, research failures. There is thus an urgent need for common ground and language.

In such a context, a very first -though challenging- step may be to define terms. This approach is called “taxonomy”, a notion that –quite ironically- may need to be clarified itself. Let’s listen to our colleague Titien Bartette (ICONEM): Taxonomy can be defined as “the classification and relational network of terminologies used in a particular area of expertise”.

In the afternoon of Thursday 23 May 2024, EUROPOL’s Core Group on Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Goods held an online workshop dedicated to Taxonomy. This online event brought together more than 40 European specialists of cultural heritage protection, with the aim to bring up the problems and share current solutions, based on the attendees’ methodological experience and on promising technologies.

ANCHISE had the honour of being invited to share ideas in this important meeting. Following the introduction by Isabelle Meslier (EUROPOL) and a reminder of the EU Action Plan on behalf of Céline Chazelas-Baur (DG Home), a short exercise aiming at highlighting the workshop’s challenges took place with the support of Corinne Chartrelle, Marine Lechenault and Charlotte Dürr (ENSP). Operational use cases were shared by Law Enforcement Agencies (OCBC, Carabinieri), followed by two talks dedicated to remediation initiatives, one by Rodrigo Martin Galan (REA), the other one by Oriol Freixa Matalonga (UNESCO). Specific attention was drawn to the necessity to follow the cluster’s project, as well as on developing proof methodologies, and on giving more room to debates on taxonomy. Then, practical applications have been addressed with the contribution of ANCHISE Partners: a presentation of ICOM Object ID’s relevant features and functionalities has been offered by Sophie Delepierre (ICOM).

Valentina Vassallo (The Cyprus Institute), and Maria Teresa Natale (Michael Culture), in relation with Axel Kerep (PARCS), exposed the practical application of taxonomies and thesauri. The audience was also composed of several ANCHISE Partners, such as the Coordinator EFA, FHG, ICCS and University of Poitiers.

In more than one way, debates on words and standardisation appear as linked. The workshop has allowed identifying crucial topics (technicalities, languages, human actions, interoperability) in the purpose of defining a common ground.


bottom of page