An Information System for administration, documentation and promotion of cultural instances


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SYNTHESIS is a cultural information system for scientific and administrative documentation of museum objects and monuments. It supports a generic workflow for documentation of cultural entities and provides functions for creating, editing, navigating and retrieving documents.

Τhe user interface environment is provided through the internet and it is specially adapted for describing the knowledge for cultural instances for administration and scientific use, for curators and administrative staff of a cultural institution.

SYNTHESIS is a multilingual system. It supports the documentation in Greek, English, French, Italian, shortly in Arabic and data exchange with other systems in xml format. The use of xml ensures the validity and longevity of the data.

Data Model

The scientific documentation includes the cultural data that concerns a cultural instance, for example the creator, the date and the place of creation, its style, its use, its discovery, its correlation with other cultural instances, people, historical events etc. The data model of SYNTHESIS is fully compatible with ISO 21127.

The administrative documentation includes all the data that concerns the administration procedures of a cultural entity such as exhibitions, movements to and from other cultural entities, ownership etc. SYNTHESIS follows Spectrum for museum objects.

Process Model

The system supports a generic process model for documentation which can be adapted according to the administrational requirements of a cultural institution. The process model supports, four types of users, “administrator”, “documentation administrator”, “editor” and “reader”. According to their type, the system allows to the users of one or more organizations, to create, process, publish, un publish, and translate documents of a cultural object or a monument.


System Characteristics

The system exploits XML technology, multi layered architectures, open source software, and international standards and provides remarkable capabilities concerning the data organization, documentation process and system architecture and system functions Data organization:

The data are organized in xml documents. This characteristic :

  1. Provides great flexibility to the structure of each document
  2. Allows the data model to be semantically structured
  3. Allows the diversity of structure of documents resulting from the type of cultural objects
  4. Allows the dynamic exploitation of the data in cultural sites in the internet
  5. Allows the creation and coexistence of multiple documents for a cultural object in more than one language
  6. Is best practice for data exchange between cultural information systems
  7. The semantic model of the data is fully compatible with ISO 21127

SYNTHESIS supports the documentation for

  1. Museum objects
  2. Monuments
  3. Open sites and settelemts
  4. Multimedia objects (photos, designs, studies etc)
  5. Bibliography
  6. Evidences
  7. Persons
  8. Organizations
  9. Departments
  10. Places
  11. Materials
  12. Events

A document of a cultural instance has five major parts

  1. Metadata of the document itself
  2. Object identification
  3. Detailed documentation
  4. Management
  5. References


Documentation Procedures

The system supports the process control for the following documentation procedures:

  1. The creation of a new unpublished document
  2. The editing of an unpublished document
  3. The notification for publishing of an unpublished document
  4. The rejection of publication of an unpublished document
  5. The publishing of an unpublished document
  6. The unpublishing of a published document
  7. The viewing of a published or unpublished document
  8. The deletion of an unpublished document
  9. The creation of a new edition of an existing document
  10. The translation of an existing published or unpublished document

And supports the following user types:

  1. System administrator
  2. Documentation administration
  3. Editor
  4. Reader


System Architecture

SYNTHESIS is a web application and uses 3 tier architecture. This characteristic allows to separate the application logic, the data and the user interface and ensures open architecture, expandability, adaptability and flexibility. The three major parts are appeared to the following picture.

The general idea is that the data is stored in xml documents in a central database and the users through the internet can use the functions of the system analogously to their type and permissions they have.

The major parts of the system are

(1) Database Server Tier which is implemented in e-xist ( - a native xml database. All kind of data is stored there in xml documents. This unit provides all the required functions for storing, updating and retrieval of the data as well as al the appropriate functions for data consistency and data integrity. The e-xist is an open source software

(2) Application tier which its implementation is based in Web service technology ( This consists the application logic and provides all the functions and procedures of the system. The use of the technology of the web services gives to the system great flexibility in the terms of adaptability, expandability, integration and exploitation of the functions of the system.

(3) Client Tier is the user interface component. It has been built on internet browser(internet explorer ή Netscape), on java ( ) and on the Altova Authentic®2005 ( xml) editor.

The advantages of the system architecture are:

  • Three tier architecture. The system can be distributed to different machines, in the same or different physical places
  • Provides the capability of adding, deleting and updating functions with low cost
  • Provides the capability of adding new type of cultural instances for documentation with low
  • Provides the capability of remote use
  • Provides the capability of platform updating without cost
  • Provides the capability of connecting with other museum or cultural institution systems
  • It makes use of open source software


System Functions

SYNTHESIS provides functions to the users for:

  • Create and edit documents
  • Navigate and retrieve documents
  • Data migration
  • Documentation of cultural instances to four European languages
  • Associate cultural instances and events



The functionality, the features and the use of SYNTHESIS in the following:



For more information contact Chrysoula Bekiari