The Materials Thesaurus was initially compiled from index terms generated from computer records created using curatorial documentation and the objects themselves. A Working Party was set up with representatives from the Collections Data Management Section (CDMS) associated with various curatorial departments.
Terms were vetted, incorporated into an overall hierarchical structure, and other thesaural relationships and features added. Curatorial and Conservation staff were consulted over problematic or ambiguous entries, and the final lists were checked by colleagues in the Department of Scientific Research.
It is stressed that the final listing is not intended as a scientific classification system, rather it is a reflection of the terminology, both current and historical, in use in curatorial departments in The British Museum. As with all British Museum thesauri, Temporary Terms can be set up at data entry, to be discussed by the Working Party and if suitable, added to the thesaurus.
Scope Notes are provided to explain the meaning of the more obscure entries or to restrict usage to a particular context or department. The terms are in the singular form, and hyphens are avoided, unless they reflect standard spelling. Foreign words are included, although higher-level terms are in English.
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