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Contents Foreword Introduction Standards Appendix Bibliography
Documenting the Cultural Heritage
Importance of Documentation
  Need for Documentation Standards
  Core Data Index
  Core Data Standard
  Object ID
This publication presents three internationally agreed standards for the documentation of the cultural heritage: the Core Data Index to Historic Buildings and Monuments of the Architectural Heritage, the International Core Data Standard for Archaeological Sites and Monuments, and the recently agreed core data standard for identifying cultural objects — Object ID. These standards have been brought together in a single publication to provide a readily accessible guide for use by those responsible for documenting the archaeological, architectural, and movable heritage. The publication explains the genesis of the individual standards, presents each in turn, and provides examples of their application — examples that illustrate the compatibility of the standards and demonstrate the potential for linking them in documentation centres.

The Importance of Documentation
The role of inventories in the management of the cultural heritage has long been recognised. They are indispensable, for purposes of identification, protection, interpretation, and physical preservation of movable objects, historic buildings, archaeological sites, and cultural landscapes. They have a significant place in all the major international conventions relating to the protection of the heritage.

The 1972 UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage included the provision that a World Heritage Committee be established, to which each party state would submit an inventory of its national heritage. Article 2 of the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe (Granada, 1985) states that:
For the purpose of precise identification of the monuments, groups of buildings and sites to be protected, each Party undertakes to maintain inventories and in the event of threats to the properties concerned, to prepare appropriate documentation at the earliest opportunity.
Similarly, Article 2 of the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Valletta, 1992) requires each party to make provision for "the maintenance of an inventory of its archaeological heritage and the designation of protected monuments and areas."

Inventories are also recognised as a vital weapon in the fight against the illicit trade in cultural objects. Article 5 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property called for the establishment and maintenance of national inventories of cultural property. In 1993 the Council of Europe, concerned by "the situation of the movable heritage in central and eastern European countries," organised an intergovernmental meeting in Prague. This meeting recognised:
that the conservation and protection of the movable cultural heritage is currently amongst the worst problems facing central and eastern countries and agree that such problems can be solved through effective international co-operation in Europe within the framework of the Council of Europe, and in close cooperation with other international bodies, in particular UNESCO, the EUROPEAN UNION and INTERPOL.
The meeting also stressed "how important it is to identify movable cultural property" and called for inventories to be compiled.

The most recent major international initiative aimed at combatting the illicit trade in cultural objects is the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on the International Return of Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects. This convention "seeks to create a unified code whereby claimants in countries that are party to the convention may sue in the courts of other signatory countries for the return of stolen or illegally exported cultural objects." The importance of inventories is recognised by article 4, which states that the possessor of a stolen cultural object who is required to return it shall be entitled to fair compensation only if it can be proved that he or she
exercised due diligence when acquiring the object. In determining whether the possessor exercised due diligence, regard shall be had to the circumstances of the acquisition, including the character of the parties, the price paid, whether the possessor consulted any reasonably accessible register of stolen cultural objects, and any other relevant information and documentation which it could reasonably have obtained.

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