The International Mosaic Documentation Centre has promoted and coordinated the creation of a multimedia database for gaining knowledge, study and promotion of mosaic decorations. With the collaboration of ENEA in Bologna, an innovative computerized system was designed and implemented, enabling storage of information regarding mosaic decorations and can also be used in networks with remote access.
This Database aims to document every type of mosaic without any chronological or geographic limitations, providing information and indicating the most thorough means of gathering knowledge, keeping in mind the different user groups seeking information in the system, ranging from students to researchers, and providing different levels of depth of information and interfaces.
The database project obtained funding from the European Community, thanks to which scholarships for research and data implementation purposes were handed out.
The preventive research for the creation of the Database was conducted in two directions: on the one hand, a catalogue file compatible with ministerial standards relative to the census of the Cultural Heritage was created and, on the other, a computerized system able to satisfy multiple requirements was designed: it provides the possibility of accessing from the Internet and of returning data according to different patterns and levels of depth of information, based on the type of user.
The requirement and the need to catalogue the cultural assets present in the territory were affirmed at the end of the 1960s. This led to the institution of the Central cataloguing office in 1969, which was accorded the task of formulating unvarying criteria to be used for cataloguing Italy’s heritage.
In 1975, the Office, under the responsibility of the new Ministry of Cultural and Environmental Heritage, became the ICCD - Central Institute of Cataloguing and Documentary Research (CICD), with the institutional goal of coordinating the cataloguing operations carried out by each individual superintendence.
From the second half of the 1970s, the ICCD was responsible for elaborating methodologies for the development of territorial cataloguing and, at the same time, promoting the execution of cataloguing and documentary research activities, thus creating and handling a general catalogue of cultural assets of archaeological, historical, artistic and environmental interest.
With regard to targeted and systematic use of computer technologies, this was initiated some time ago - for its important contribution to monitoring and recording reliable data for preservation and restoration - in the fields of study and documentary research into ancient and contemporary mosaics. The possibility of addressing significant problems in a systematic and integrated way, like that of the condition of the wall surfaces, identifying any detachments in the base of the mosaic, mapping the boundaries between the original and the restored areas and checking the cleaning operations, has recently brought this complex field of study closer to computerized systems. In an effort to offload the huge amount of information on mosaic materials onto indelible and permanent supports, the new data processing possibilities available, and particularly those used for interpreting images, play a fundamental role in research, thanks to the potential for comparison and analysis that the abovementioned computerized systems are capable of.
Over the last forty years, our knowledge of mosaic works has grown and deepened considerably, thanks to the huge quantity of information produced by the numerous restoration works carried out, during which a considerable amount of material was also produced by using new diagnostic investigation technologies.
It is therefore obvious that the creation of the CIDM database was a very complex operation. Being designed for documentary research and for enhancing the value of mosaic works, the inclusion of various professional experts was necessary: researchers and computer technicians were joined by other experts from the fields of art history, art techniques and restoration, as well as from the field of bibliographical sciences and documentary research.
All these skilled professionals were involved, albeit in more or less obvious ways and to varying degrees, during the construction stages of the database: analysis of requirements, design and implementation of the computerized system.