Interesting discussion on the politically correct usage of dates, but I think Mary's question had more to do with ISO 8601, the ISO standard for representation of dates and times (http://www.iso.ch/iso/en/prods-services/popstds/datesandtime.html). Very useful for eliminating ambiguities when one wants to machine-process dates to create tools like a searchable index of dates. Sadly, from what I can see on the best sites on ISO 8601 that Google picks up, Mary has discovered a gap in the ISO rules for dates. I don't see anything about normalizing dates that precede the year 0 on the Gregorian calendar. If I'm just not missing something, it seems that the ISO folks were not thinking about the description of really old historical materials. Mary, maybe this is a good question for LC or SAA (through TSDS) to send up the flag pole to ISO? Two people who it might be good to strategize with about this are Michael Fox (SAA representative to ICA Committee on Descriptive Standards) and Lisa Weber (SAA representative to NISO).
As far as encoding your own <unitdate> NORMAL attributes, it seems like any standard way that LC does it should be fine. I guess it all depends on whether your current system is going to do anything with the indexing of those dates. If they're all normalized consistently, it should be pretty easy to change them if ISO ever does extend 8601 to deal with dates other than the Gregorian calendar. Could you just put a minus sign in front of the year (-0052, for 52 BCE)?
[log in to unmask] wrote:
> It may be "post-colonialist," but the date is still based on the birth of
> Alex Pezzati
> University of Pennsylvania Museum
> Quoting "O'Neill, Ken" <[log in to unmask]>:
> > The generally accepted, post-colonialist standard is B.C.E - before the
> > common era.
> > Ken O'Neill, MA
> > Program Coordinator
> > University of Arizona Library Special Collections
> > 520.621.4300
> > "To live is to fly
> > low and high
> > so shake the dust off of your wings
> > and the sleep out of your eyes"
> > -Townes van Zandt
> > "The opinions or statements expressed herein are my own and should not be
> > taken as a position, opinion,or endorsement of the University of Arizona."
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Mary Lacy [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> > Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2004 12:34 PM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Date normalization for B.C.?
> > All,
> > Is it possible to normalize pre-Christian era dates using ISO
> > 8601? I've got a series consisting of artifacts ca. 6th century-1st
> > century B.C. The standard
> > (http://xml.coverpages.org/ISO-FDIS-8601.pdf) is designed
> > for use with the Gregorian calendar, and cautions about its use for dates
> > preceding 1582.
> > Any advice on encoding my <unitdate> would be appreciated!
> > Mary Lacy
> > Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
> > (202)707-8799 fax (202)707-6336
> > [log in to unmask]
> > **usual disclaimers apply**
| Bill Landis
| Manuscripts Librarian, Special Collections and Archives
| The UCI Libraries, University of California
| P.O. Box 19557, Irvine, CA 92623-9557
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