I am not an expert on ISO 8601 and dates. That said, I feel reasonably safe
in saying that dates, other than Gregorian, Common Era, are not addressed
in international computer standards. Given this fact, EAD 2002 attempts to
deal with the situation in a reasonable though certainly not ideal way. On
date elements, EAD has two attributes that are critical. The first is
@calendar, for specifying the calendar on which the date value is based.
The second is the @era, for specifying the, well, era. 2002 defaults to
@calendar='gregorian' and @era='ce', as it seemed reasonable, for now, that
this would be the most common date provided. Thus for BCE dates, one can
use @calendar='gregorian' and @era='bce'. While it is true that the
Gregorian calendar did not exist BCE, the BCE dates are commonly given
relative to a Gregorian reckoning of time in modern Western texts. If this
is not the case, for example, the date is based on the Muslim calendar,
then the date will be relative to the pivotal moment in Islamic sacred
With respect to the discussion about time and cultural sensitivities in
expressing dates, I highly recommend
The origin and goal of history / by Karl Jaspers.
First published in English in 1953, in German 1949.
It certainly does not solve the challenge of dating in a universally
acceptable way, but it is quite thoughtful.
At 11:39 AM 4/16/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>Have you considered how this is done in the papyrological cataloging
>emerging from Duke (in which Steve Henson, I think, had a hand), as well
>as the XML surrogates (are there such?) produced through the APIS project
>led by Trainos Gagos at Michigan?
>Would there be a way to use the time codes for subfield a in the 045 field
>as an additional attribute, or do you need to be more exact?
>Maybe Columbia, Michigan, Duke, or Berkeley has people who've considered this.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Encoded Archival Description List on behalf of Bill Landis
> Sent: Fri 4/16/2004 10:08 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Date normalization for B.C.?
> 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
> thking 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
> > Christ.
> > Alex Pezzati
> > Archivist
> > 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 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
> | 949 824.3113 Voice | 949 824.2472 Fax
> | [log in to unmask]