CNDA or Coded Nomenclature for Digital Assets: Streamlining India’s Buddhist Cave Temples Archaeology

1. Introduction

Welcome to our digital journey through the ancient marvels of Ajanta. In this endeavour, we face the unique challenge of organizing and managing an extensive array of digital assets without a traditional Digital Asset Management (DAM) system. Each cave, with its plethora of photographs and artifacts, represents a distinct narrative thread in the tapestry of Ajanta’s history. To address this, I’ve developed a specialized coding system that not only simplifies the naming of each file but also brings order to the potential chaos of numerous posts, pages, galleries, and categories.

This coding system transcends its primary function of identification; it’s the backbone of our backend file management, facilitated by a dedicated plugin. The folder structures, mirroring this nomenclature, serve as intuitive signposts, guiding our categorization and tagging processes. This methodical approach ensures that every digital asset is easily traceable, be it a narrative painting from a specific cave or an inscription from a secluded corner. Our goal is to make these ancient treasures accessible and navigable, not just for enthusiasts and scholars but for anyone drawn to the allure of Ajanta.

As you explore this site, the invisible yet efficient structure of our backend organization enhances your experience. This introduction is more than a briefing on our system; it’s an invitation to delve into a world where history, technology, and meticulous organization converge to preserve and celebrate the legacy of Ajanta.

2. Code Structure

The code structure is meticulously designed to encapsulate a comprehensive range of information about each digital asset or artifact. Follow this sequence to ensure a standardized and informative coding system:

  • General Structure: Codes are structured as follows: [State Code]-[Site Code]-[Cave Number]-[Part of Building]-[Category/Genre]-[Specific Identifier]-[if applicable: Scene No. in brackets ()]-[if applicable: additional photo no.]
  • Example: MA-AJA-001-HA-NAR-S50(2)-1

3. State Codes

A 2 or 3-letter abbreviation representing the Indian state where the site is located. Example: MA for Maharashtra.

  • AP: Andhra Pradesh
  • BI: Bihar
  • CH: Chhattisgarh
  • GO: Goa
  • GU: Gujarat
  • MA: Maharashtra
  • MP: Madhya Pradesh
  • OD: Odisha
  • RAJ: Rajasthan
  • UP: Uttar Pradesh

4. Site Codes

  • A unique abbreviation for the archaeological site within the state. Example: AJA for Ajanta.

5. Cave Numbers

  • A 3-digit representation of the cave number within the site. Always include leading zeros for consistency. Example: 001.

6. Part of Building

Abbreviated codes reflecting the specific part of the cave temple where the asset is found or related to. Example: FC for Frontcourt.

  • FC: Frontcourt
  • PO: Porch
  • HA: Hall
  • SA: Shrine Antechamber
  • SH: Shrine
  • VE: Vestibule
  • CE: Cell
  • Roo: Roof
  • Oth: Others (for any part not covered by the above categories)

7. Category/Genre

Classify each artifact or digital asset using the following categories to ensure systematic archiving and easy retrieval:

  • ARC (Architecture): Use this code for assets related to the structural elements, layout designs, and architectural details of the cave temples.
  • PAI (Painting): This code is for all types of paintings. Paintings often carry rich historical and cultural narratives or depict ornamental and devotional themes.
  • SCU (Sculpture): This category is for three-dimensional art forms and sculptures, encompassing a range of artistic expressions from narrative to devotional.
  • Sub-genre Identifier:
    • NAR (Narrative): For paintings and sculptures with narrative themes. Include Schlingloff’s identifier for a precise reference (e.g., NAR-S50).
    • DOT (Devotional & Ornamental): For paintings and sculptures focusing on devotional figures or ornamental motifs. Utilize Zin’s identifier for these themes (e.g., DOT-Z12).
  • Narrative Scene Number (if applicable): For narrative themes, indicate the scene number in parentheses to capture the sequence and specific scene within the narrative or theme (e.g., NAR-S50(2)).
  • Additional Photo Number (if applicable): Include an additional sequential number at the end of the code to distinguish multiple photos or variations of the same asset (e.g., -1, -2).
  • INS (Inscription): For any inscriptions found within the caves, including incised or painted. Inscriptions provide valuable historical, religious, or cultural insights.

Complete Example: Following this structure, a narrative sculpture in the frontcourt of Cave 001 at the Ajanta site in Maharashtra, identified as the 50th narrative theme according to Schlingloff, and being the first photo of this scene, would be coded as: MA-AJA-001-FC-SCU-NAR-S50-1.

8. Additional Guidelines

  • Ensure all codes are used consistently across all documentation and databases.
  • Update and maintain a master list of all state, site, and category codes for reference.
  • Train all relevant personnel in the understanding and application of these codes.
  • Review and update the coding system periodically to reflect any new discoveries or changes in archaeological classifications.

By adhering to these rules, we can ensure a standardized approach to cataloguing and referencing digital assets in archaeology, facilitating better organization, retrieval, and scholarly communication.

Appendix A: Archaeological sites of ancient Buddhist cave temples

  1. AP-AKK-Akkanna Madanna, Vijayawada
  2. AP-Belum, Kolimigundla
  3. AP-Bodhikonda, near Ramateertham
  4. AP-Bojjanna Konda / Lingala Konda / Sankaram
  5. AP-Guntupalli
  6. AP-Kotturu
  7. AP-Padavula, near Peddapuram
  8. AP-Undavalli, Vijayawada
  9. ASS-Dubapara
  10. BI-Barabar Hill
  11. BI-Nagarjuni Hill
  12. BI-Saptaparni, Rajgir
  13. BI-Swarn Bhandar, Rajgir
  14. CH-Sitabengra & Jogimara
  15. GO-Arvalem, Sanquelim
  16. GO-Lamgaon, Bicholim
  17. GO-Rivona, Sanguem
  18. GO-Siddhanatha, Surla, Bicholim
  19. GU-Baba Pyare, Girnar Hill
  20. GU-Dhank, N-W of Upleta
  21. GU-Kadiya Dungar
  22. GU-Khambhalida, N-E of Jetpur
  23. GU-Khapra Kodiya, Girnar
  24. GU-Prabhas Patan
  25. GU-Sana Vakiya, Sana Dungar
  26. GU-Siyot, Lakhpat
  27. GU-Talaja
  28. GU-Uparkot, Girnar
  29. MA-Agashiva / Karad
  30. MA-AIN-Ainari
  31. MA-Aja-Ajanta
  32. MA-Ambika Group, Manmodi Hill, Junnar
  33. MA-Ambivali, Ambiwadi T. Kothal Khalati
  34. MA-Ankai & Tankai, south of Manmad
  35. MA-AUR-Aurangabad
  36. MA-Bahrot, near Dhamangaon
  37. MA-Banmoli, Mangaon
  38. MA-Banoti / Dhareshwar, Soegaon
  39. MA-Bedse
  40. MA-Bhaje
  41. MA-Bhandara, west of Chakan
  42. MA-Bhimashankar Group, Manmodi Hill, Junnar
  43. MA-Bhivkund, east of Nagpur
  44. MA-Bhutaleni Group, Manmodi Hill, Junnar
  45. MA-Bhuyari, Nagpur
  46. MA-Chamar, near Osmanabad
  47. MA-Dharashiva, N-W of Osmanabad
  48. MA-Digewadi
  49. MA-Dongrai, near Agashiva Hills
  50. MA-Elephanta Caves 2-4 (originally Buddhist?)
  51. MA-Ellora Caves 1-12?
  52. MA-Gandharpale, Mahad
  53. MA-Ganesh Pahad Group / Lenyadri, Junnar
  54. MA-Ghatotkacha near Janjala
  55. MA-Ghorawadi / Ghorwadeshwar, Talegaon Dabhade
  56. MA-Gomasi, Nandgaon
  57. MA-Hal, near Khopoli
  58. MA-Jivadani temple, near Virar
  59. MA-Jogeshwari
  60. MA-Kanheri
  61. MA-Karla
  62. MA-Kaudanya, near Agashiva Hills
  63. MA-Kerumata, Navi Mumbai airport (destroyed)
  64. MA-Khadsamble / Nenavali, Ghera Sudhagad
  65. MA-Khed, in Khed town
  66. MA-Kol, S-E of Mahad
  67. MA-Kondhane
  68. MA-Kondivita / Mahakali
  69. MA-Kuda, Rahtad
  70. MA-Kunghara
  71. MA-Lachunda, near Osmanabad
  72. MA-Lonad, near Mumbai
  73. MA-MA-Shilatane, near Karla
  74. MA-Mahur, near Mahurgad
  75. MA-Mandapeshwar
  76. MA-Mrugagad, Kurvande
  77. MA-Naneghat
  78. MA-Pale
  79. MA-Palsambe
  80. MA-Panhale Kazi
  81. MA-Patan, south of Karla
  82. MA-Pitalkhora
  83. MA-Pohale, south of Wadi Ratnagiri
  84. MA-Rajwada, Khireshwar
  85. MA-Shirwal
  86. MA-Shivaneri Group, Shivaneri Hill, Junnar
  87. MA-Sutonda, near Banoti
  88. MA-Thanale / Nadsur, Ghera Sudhagad
  89. MA-Tikona Fort, Gevhande Khadak
  90. MA-Tulja Leni Group, Tulja Hill, Junnar
  91. MA-Ukasan, off Kamshet
  92. MA-Vijasan, Bhadravati
  93. MA-Waghdevi, Chinchoti
  94. MA-Wakrul
  95. MA-Yelghol, south of Kamshet
  96. MA-Yerphale, near Patan
  97. MP-Bagh
  98. MP-Dhamnar, Chandwasa
  99. MP-Khejadiya Bhop
  100. MP-Lohani, Mandav, Mandu
  101. MP-Pandav, Panchamarhi
  102. MP-Salbardi
  103. MP-Saru-Maru, N-W of Itarsi
  104. OD-Kaima
  105. OD-Langudi
  106. OD-Udayagiri & Khandagiri
  107. RAJ-Binnayaga
  108. RAJ-Hathiyagor, Jhalawar
  109. RAJ-Kolvi, Harnawada
  110. UP-Deogarh rock shelter, near Garhol

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