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Merging and expanding existing ontologies to cover the Built Cultural Heritage domain

Olga Piedad Zalamea Patino (KULeuven/SADL, Leuven, Belgium)
Jos Van Orshoven (Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)
Thérèse Steenberghen (KULeuven/SADL, Leuven, Belgium)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 8 January 2018

Issue publication date: 5 June 2018



The purpose of this paper is to present the development of an ontological model consisting of terms and relationships between these terms, creating a conceptual information model for the Built Cultural Heritage (BCH) domain, more specifically for preventive conservation.


The On-To-Knowledge methodology was applied in the ontology development process. Terms related to preventive conservation were identified by means of a taxonomy which was used later to identify related existing ontologies. Three ontologies were identified and merged, i.e. Geneva City Geographic Markup Language (Geneva CityGML), Monument Damage ontology (Mondis) and CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CIDOC-CRM). Additional classes and properties were defined as to provide a complete semantic framework for management of BCH.


A BCH-ontology for preventive conservation was created. It consists of 143 classes from which 38 originate from the Mondis ontology, 38 from Geneva CityGML, 37 from CIDOC-CRM and 30 were newly created. The ontology was applied in a use case related to the New cathedral in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador. Advantages over other type of systems and for the BCH-domain were discussed based on this example.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed ontology is in a testing stage through which a number of its aspects are being verified.


This ontological model is the first one to focus on the preventive conservation of BCH.



This work has been funded by the Convocatoria Abierta 2013 program from Secretaria de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación del Ecuador.


Zalamea Patino, O.P., Van Orshoven, J. and Steenberghen, T. (2018), "Merging and expanding existing ontologies to cover the Built Cultural Heritage domain", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 162-178.



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