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ZUCCARO (english)

by raspe last modified 2010-02-21 21:34

A short overview

A configurable information system for the humanities

ZUCCARO is a major software project of the Bibliotheca Hertziana. Its name is not only an acronyme (spelled out as "ZOPE-based configurable classes for academic research on-line") but refers also to the Italian painter and art theorist Federico Zuccaro (1542-1609), whose former house is now the seat of the institute. ZUCCARO was conceived as a general repository that is able to accomodate the data for several other projects of the institute, mainly the two research databases "Lineamenta" (the collection of 18th century Italian architectural drawings) and "ArsRoma" (dealing with painting and society in Rome around 1600). For the future we plan to make resources like the electronic library catalogue and the digital photo collection accessible through the ZUCCARO database.

ZUCCARO is based on a sophisticated data model derived from the CIDOC conceptual reference model standard. There are three main categories of data. First, the general historic objects and actors like persons (not only artists), buildings, historic locations and institutions (comprising families and confraternities as well as museums and libraries); second, the specific art-historical objects like paintings, sculptures, prints and other artwork. A third tier of data stores the documentary material providing historic evidence and scientific information about the other two, like bibliography, archival documents, photographs, internet sites and other records.

Historic facts are modelled and represented by a central data class called "historic event". It is used to document a link between objects at a specific time in history. An artist is born in a town, a painting is bought by a cardinal, a building is described in a book, a merchant is elected chairman of a guild. Documentary evidence for the fact can be associated. By splitting up data in this way, it is possible to examine historic facts from different point of views, following paths which could hitherto be treaded only with much effort. It is now easy to view all persons who held the same office, to list all sculptures to which a book refers, and so forth.

The system is based on ZOPE, a web application server software, and the content management system Plone. The data modelling was done in UML diagrams, through which it is possible to regenerate the code when changes are made to the model, without having to reprogram the system. The software is developed with open source products and the content will be freely accessible to scholars all over the world. Data collected with other software during the conception and development phases of ZUCCARO is currently being revisioned, converted and migrated to the new system.

 browse the preliminary database (german interface, with password protection)


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