An Interdisciplinary Discussion of the Terminologies used in Cultural Heritage Research

Vera Moitinho de Almeida, Stefanie Wefers and Orla Murphy


Accuracy, artefact, resolution, texture are words central to many discussions of the documentation of cultural heritage. This terminology whilst broadly understood across the sciences is often misunderstood in its specificity for particular cases. An interdisciplinary dialogue conducted over a period of years and comprising of experts in a range of fields; art history, colour science, engineering, semantics, mathematics, cultural heritage, museum studies with others, has yielded a challenging discussion document that considers the thorny issue of a shared understanding of a set of keywords. At times our perceived shared language is not shared at all but reveals – at times through subtle nuance, and yet at times through gaping chasm – the disciplinary subjectivities we hold unbeknownst to ourselves operating within the disciplines. Mutual understanding of certain of these key terms is central to any newly engaged, participatory transdisciplinary endeavour that seeks to develop critical methods for the documentation, analysis, preservation, and sharing of cultural heritage objects outside the traditional disciplinary silos. This chapter charts the interdisciplinary discussion towards a common understanding of terminologies used in cultural heritage. It is a discussion that recognizes critical differences or common misuse and aims to contribute to a shared understanding that may be useful for all knowledge domains in the field. The chapter summarizes the work of a number of Think Tanks conducted by early career investigators participating in the Colour and Space in Cultural Heritage network.

Keywords: cultural heritage, interdisciplinary research terminology, metrology, humanities, digital documentation, COSCH.



Figure 1. Example of sources of measurement error in 3D scanning that lead to uncertainty of measurement results (adapted from Moitinho de Almeida, 2013).


Figure 2. Schematic diagram of surface characteristics (adapted and reprinted from ASME B46.1-2009, by permission of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. All rights reserved).