Subject Classification

On the Bibliographies page, I have categorized the bibliographies we have been pointed to rather roughly, by broad subject categories, developed on an ad-hoc basis.  For the ultimate goal of this project, I would like to have a better articulated subject classification scheme.

Librarians, like archaeologists, love formal classification schemes, and some do exist that we could adopt for this project:

  1. The Library of Congress Subject Headings.  In the US, the Library of Congress Subject Headings are used to classify books by most major university libraries (most of which use Library of Congress call numbers to shelve their books as well.)  The classification is fairly robust, and would cover all subject areas this bibliography project is likely to include.  It is not easily accessible for free online, however (though it is searchable online at, this site requires some existing knowledge of how the LCSH work to get results), although most US libraries own a copy of the current edition in print.
  2. For Classics, the most extensive index, L’Annee Philologique ( – by subscription), has its own subject classification.  This librarian finds it maddening-to-useless,  but if you’d like to argue in its favor in the comments to this post I will try to keep my mind open!  Upsides: long-standing history of use; downsides: does not cover subjects falling outside the scope of the index, i.e. outside the classical world.
  3. Dyabola, the Archäologische Bibliographie of the Deutsches Archaeologisches Institut in Rome (, by subscription), also has a structured subject classification (it is most easily viewable as its own entity via the open-access Zenon DAI interface at – click on the link labeled “Bibliographical systematic” and it will pop up in a new window).  I personally find this to be a fairly useful one for the topics covered in the index.  Downside: it is even more limited in scope than L’Annee Philologique, since Dyabola only covers art and archaeology of the Mediterranean.

I am sure there are other classification structures for other areas of the ancient world I am not familiar with.  Please share your suggestions with me.

About classicslibrarian

Former PhD student in classical archaeology, now a librarian. Seeing Classics in a different way!
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1 Response to Subject Classification

  1. Ashley says:

    As far as data value standards in art and archaeology, I would recommend using the Getty Vocabularies. These controlled vocabularies/thesauri should allow for more specific control than LCSH.

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