The Getty
Research Home Search Tools & Databases Learn about the Getty Vocabularies Editorial Guidelines Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names Online
Art & Architecture Thesaurus Online
3. Editorial Rules, continued






Place Types

Included in this chapter


[end-user display for Marakesh, Morocco]





Place Type (required)



A noun that characterizes a significant aspect of the place, including its role, function, political anatomy, size, or physical characteristics. It may include terms for culture (e.g., Aztec).


As of this writing, values are controlled by the Place Type list. See Appendix F or search the list in VCS. With the release of TGN as LOD, the place types are now mapped to AAT; we anticipate the control of place types by linking to AAT in the future.

  • Each place type entry in the Place Type List comprises a numeric code and a term. Codes are devised so that searching on the truncated code will retrieve similar things (the percent sign is the wildcard in VCS).



Place Types include terms to describe physical features such as continents, rivers, and mountains; and political entities, such as empires, nations, states, districts, townships, cities, and neighborhoods. Place types are indexing terms based on the structured vocabulary of the AAT, where possible.

  • Determining the place type for a place often involves decisions regarding the hierarchical structure surrounding the place. See also chapter 3.1 Hierarchical Relationships.





Minimum Requirement
Record at least one place type, the preferred place type.

  • The preferred place type displays with the name in the hierarchy and other displays; thus, the preferred place type should be consistently applied for similar places across the database. Also, it should clearly characterize the place.
  • List as many additional place types as time and editorial priorities allow.



Administrative entities vs. Physical features
Place types with codes between 20000 and 29999 are physical features, meaning they were formed by natural forces on planet Earth.

  • Place types with any code outside the range 20000-29999 (e.g., 10000-19999, 50000-59999, and 80000-89999) are administrative entities, which refers not only to places with administrative functions (such as nations or states), but to all places with boundaries, features, or other associations that have been formed by or influenced by human habitation or endeavors (e.g., inhabited places, archaeological sites, reservoirs)


Preferred Place Type: General rules
For the preferred place type, choose the place type appropriate to the situation at hand. Flag the preferred place type. See Preferred Flag below.

  • Inhabited places
    Use inhabited place as the preferred place type for all places that are currently populated, including cities, towns, villages, hamlets, and other settlements or communities. A more specific term suggesting the size of the community, such as city or town, should be included as the second place type, with other place types listed in order of importance (see Additional Place Types below). (The reason that the specific term is not the preferred place type is to ensure consistency in TGN, given that contributors of large data sets do not characterize the inhabited places/populated places in their data by specific terms.)

      • Example
        [for Arvida, Québec, Canada]
      • Place types:
        inhabited place (preferred, C)
        town (C)

    • Use inhabited place for places with populations of a hamlet or larger. Generally, do not use inhabited place for a farm, national park, or site inhabited by only one family, caretakers, or another very small group; instead use a specific term for these places, such as farm or national park. However, a military installation, large monastery, or other site with a large population and centralized authority (albeit not a mayor, per se) may be an inhabited place.

  • Divisions of a city
    For the preferred place type for named administrative divisions of a city, use the term used by the city itself, if possible and as found in standard authoritative sources in English (e.g., arrondissement for Paris, France; rione for Rome, Italy). As discussed in 3.3 Hierarchical Relationships, if you enter any such administrative division of a city, you must enter all of them. Typically, all of the administrative divisions of a given city should have the same place type. If your research indicates otherwise, consult with your supervisor. See also Neighborhoods below.

      • Example
        [for Acilia, Rome, Italy]
      • Place type:
        rione (preferred, C)
  • Neighborhoods
    Use neighborhood as the preferred place type for areas of a city that are known by a name, but are not circumscribed by administrative boundaries and government. Large cities often have both neighborhoods and official administrative divisions.

      • Examples
        [for Chinatown, San Francisco, California, USA]
      • Place types:
        neighborhood (preferred, C)
        tourist center (C)

    • Urban expansion: If a city has grown over time to incorporate surrounding communities that were formerly independent, include these formerly independent communities as neighborhoods under the city if possible. Add inhabited place as a historical place type.

      • Examples
        [for Georgetown, now a part of Washington, DC]
      • Place types:
        neighborhood (preferred, C) ............ settled since 1665, laid out in 1751, annexed to Washington in 1878
        inhabited place (H)

    • If the former community is not currently considered a neighborhood, the former names should be included as historical names in the record for the city; see chapter 3.3 Names.
    • Be consistent: If you enter one neighborhood, and if that city is usually associated with a given set of neighborhoods, you must enter them all. On the other hand, note that for many cities, these non-administrative areas are referred to casually and there may not be an established set of neighborhoods for a city. See 3.1 Hierarchical Relationships.
    • Caveat: In a large metropolis, there may be areas within the boundaries of the metropolis that are independent communities and are thus separate inhabited places in their own right, while other places within the same boundaries may have names and separate postal codes, but they are not independent and thus are informal divisions that should be labeled neighborhood in TGN.

      • Example
        [end-user hierarchical display with preferred place types for a partial list of neighborhoods in Los Angeles]
  • Metropolitan areas
    For large urban areas comprising several inhabited places and many neighborhoods and subdivisions, use metropolitan area as the preferred place type if warranted by your sources. If your source uses another term, consider other terms in the place type list and consult with your supervisor.

      • Example
        [partial hierarchical display with preferred place types for London, England]
        Top of the TGN hierarchy (hierarchy root)
        .... World (facet)
        ........ Europe (continent)
        ............ United Kingdom (nation)
        ................ England (country)
        .................... Greater London (metropolitan area)
        .......................... Barking and Dagenham (borough)
        .......................... Barnet (borough)
        .......................... Bexley (borough)
        .......................... Brent (borough)
        .......................... Bromley (borough)
        .......................... Croydon (borough)
        .......................... [etc.]
        .......................... London (inhabited place)
        .............................. Camden (borough)
        .............................. City of London (borough)
        .............................. City of Westminster (borough)
        .............................. Greenwich (borough)
        .............................. Hackney (borough)
        .............................. [etc.]


    • For large metropolitan areas with complex divisions, refer to other similar places in the TGN database to establish precedents and consistency. Metropolitan areas differ one from another, and may include inhabited places, neighborhoods, suburbs, and various other official administrative divisions and informal divisions. Use authoritative sources to assign place types and build the hierarchy for a given metropolis. See also 3.3 Hierarchical Relationships.

  • Deserted settlements
    For places that were formerly inhabited settlements, use deserted settlement as the preferred place type. Deserted settlements are typically archaeological sites or sites with ruins. If appropriate, include archaeological site as the second place type. Include inhabited place as a historical place type.

      • Example
        [for Angkor, Cambodia]
    • Before assigning the place type, do appropriate research to determine if the place is actually deserted or currently inhabited. Note that archaeological sites may exist within currently inhabited places and therefore it is sometimes difficult to determine from your source if the place is truly deserted or not.

  • Lost settlements
    For places known by name from historical documents or literature, but for which scholars have not determined the actual location, use lost settlement as the preferred place type. Include inhabited place as a historical place type. Position lost settlements in the hierarchy under the modern region where the site is believed to have existed. If the corresponding modern area is unknown, place the lost settlement under the historical area that contained it (see 3.1 Hierarchical Relationships).

      • Example
        [for Balla, which was located somewhere in Imathía, Macedonia, Greece]
      • Place Types:
        lost settlement (preferred, C) ............ was a large ancient city
        inhabited place (H)
    • If scholarly opinion holds that there is one or more contender deserted settlements or inhabited places that may have been the site of the lost settlement, link to deserted settlements or inhabited places as Related Places for the lost settlement (see 3.6 Associative Relationships). If scholars are in agreement that a particular modern inhabited place or deserted settlement was the site of the place, this is not a lost settlement; its name should be a variant name in the record for the inhabited place or deserted settlement. See 3.3 Names.

  • Prehistoric sites, historical sites, and ruins

    • Prehistoric site or historical site: For the preferred place type for sites that were not inhabited places or where scholars are uncertain whether or not actual habitation occurred (e.g., if a site was a seasonal ceremonial site or burial ground, and it is uncertain if people actually lived there), it is recommended to use prehistoric site or historical site, as applicable.

      • Example
        [for Devil's Lair, Australia]
      • Place Types:
        prehistoric site (preferred, C) ... site of modern Homo sapiens activity
        archaeological site (C)

    • Ruins: For the ruins of a structure, such as a ruined building, but not a settlement, use ruins as the preferred place type. For the ruins of a settlement, use deserted settlement.

      • Example
        [for Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England]
      • Place Types:
        ruins (preferred, C) ...... was constructed in stages, beginning in the 4th millennium BCE
        megalithic site (C)
        sacred site (H)

    • Other terms: Additional more specific place types should be added to further describe the prehistoric site, historic site, or ruins, as warranted. See Additional Place Types below. If you do not have enough information to assign prehistoric site, historic site, or ruins as the preferred place type, you may use another term that characterizes the site, as described in your sources, including the following:

    ancient site burial site
    tomb sacred site
    archaeological site mine
    ceremonial site ceremonial mound
    • Paleontological site vs. archaeological site: If the place is primarily the site of extinct animal or plant remains, the preferred place type should be paleontological site. The place type archaeological site (whether used as an additional place type or - if necessary, preferred place type) - refers to digs where human or hominid remains or artifacts have been discovered.
  • Structures in the countryside
    For the most part, TGN does not include architectural works. Exceptions are structures that serve as place names, generally because they are in the countryside, outside of any inhabited place. Such places should be labeled with the term that best describes the structure.

      • Example
        [for San Baudelio in Soria province, Castilla y León, Spain]
      • Place Type: monastery (preferred, C) ............ probably from early 11th century

  • General regions and historic regions
    For regions or areas in the current world that are referred to by a name or names, but have no administrative boundaries or government, use the preferred place type general region.

      • Example
        [for the Middle East]
      • Place Type:
        general region (preferred, C)

    • Historic region: For general regions that are historical - that is the name is not used currently to refer to the area but only in a historical context - use the preferred place type historic region. Historic region may also be used as a preferred place type for historic areas that were formerly states, but the area comprised several states of various forms and had various boundaries over time. The place type may later be changed to former state/nation/empire with more specific non-preferred place types (kingdom, principality, etc.) if a special project is undertaken to research the area and create a hierarchy for it.

    • Use the Descriptive Note to describe the extent and characteristics of the general region or historic region. See 3.4 Descriptive Note.

    • Historic regions and general regions typically should have no children. See 3.1 Hierarchical Relationships.

  • Lost areas
    For a historical area for which the modern counterpart is unknown, make the preferred place type lost area. If scholars have one or more potential modern sites for which the lost area may correspond, make these sites Related Places. See 3.6 Associative Relationships.

      • Example
        [for Thule, a historic island for which the modern counterpart is uncertain]
      • Place Types:
        lost area (preferred, C)
        island (C)

  • Historical nations
    For historical nations, states, empires, etc., the preferred place type should be former nation/state/empire. Additional place types should describe the place more specifically as a kingdom, empire, nation, etc. These former place types would be marked as historical.

      • Example
        [for the Byzantine Empire]
      • Place Types:
        former nation/state/empire (preferred, C)
        historic region (C)
        empire (H)

    • For historical confederations of nations, for the preferred place type use former group of nations/states/cities.

      • Example
        [for Etruria, Italian peninsula]
      • Place Types:
        former group of nations/states/cities (preferred, C)
        historic region (C)
        confederation (H)

    • For former administrative entities, use former administrative division (whether the nations to which they belong are themselves current or historical).

      • Example
        [for Avon, a historical county of England]
      • Place Types:
        former administrative division (preferred, C)
        agricultural center (C)
        manufacturing center (C)
        county (H)
  • Physical features
    For physical features, use the term that best describes the feature. Consult records for other similar places in TGN to achieve consistency.

      • Example
        [for the Danube River]
      • Place Type:
        river (preferred, C)

        [for Baja California]
      • Place Type:
        peninsula (preferred, C)

    • Carefully choose among place type terms for similar features.

      • Examples
        [for the Alps]
        Place Types:
        mountain system (preferred, C)

      • [for the Bavarian Alps]
      • Place Types:
        mountain range (preferred, C)

        [for Grosser Riedelstein, Bavaria, Germany]
      • Place Type:
        mountain (preferred, C)


[from the place type list in VCS]

  • Physical features that are also administrative entities
    For large features that are also administrative entities, generally make separate records for the physical feature and the administrative entity. Make the preferred place type appropriate for each entity. In addition, link the places as related places, except when the physical feature is a child of the administrative entity. See 3.1 Hierarchical Relationships and 3.6 Associative Relationships.

      • Examples
        [for Sicily, Italy, the administrative region of Italy that comprises the large island and several nearby smaller islands]
      • Place Types:
        region (preferred, C) ............ part of the Bourbon kingdom of the Two Sicilies from 1816, part of unified Italy from 1861
        first level subdivision (C)

        [for Sicily, the island]
      • Place Types:
        island (preferred, C)

    • Exception: If other places in the immediate hierarchy of the focus record combine both coextensive entities in one record, follow this precedent to achieve consistency.

    • Note that this rule has been applied somewhat inconsistently in the past. Records that currently have place types that are both administrative entities and physical features will be reexamined in future editorial projects.

    • Larger features: For large physical features that are not administrative entities but have significant roles in human endeavors, make only one record for the feature and add the roles as additional place types. The preferred place type in this case should be the one describing physical feature, since this is the more prominent role/characteristic for the place.

      • Example
        [for the Ganges River]
      • Place Types:
        river (preferred, C)
        sacred site (C)

    • Smaller features: For a small feature, such as a cave or hill that is the site of a deserted settlement, historic site, prehistoric site, or archaeological site, the preferred place type should be the one that refers to human habitation or endeavors (e.g., prehistoric site, in the example below), because with small features the place type reflecting human endeavors is considered the more prominent role.

      • Example
        [for Altamira, Spain]
      • Place Types:
        prehistoric site (C)
        archaeological site (C)
        cave (preferred, C)

  • Former physical features
    For former physical features, such as submerged islands, use the appropriate term: former watercourse, former body of water, former island, or former physical feature (use the last one when none of the previous place types applies).

      • Example
        [for Antirodos, Alexandria, Egypt]
      • Place Types:
        former island (preferred, C) ............ sank several feet beneath the surface after series of earthquakes that occurred from 4th through 14th century BCE
        archaeological site (C) ............ underwater excavation began in 1997
        island (H)



Preferred Place Type: World, continents, and nations
The World, continents, nations, and subdivisions of nations are typically edited in special editorial projects at the direction of your supervisor. The records for these entities should not be edited without first checking with your supervisor. However, you should be aware of the rules regarding place types for these places.

  • Continents
    The preferred place type of the seven current continents is continent. For former continents such as Pangaea, the preferred place type is former physical feature and continent is a historical place type.

      • Example
        [for the current continent, Asia]
      • Place types:
        continent (preferred, C)

  • Nations and dependent states
    The preferred place types for the primary political units of the current world are nation and dependent state.

      • Examples
        [for Nigeria]
      • Place types:
        nation (preferred, C) ............ gained independence 1960
        primary political unit (C)
        independent sovereign nation (C)
        republic (C) ............ established 1963
        controlled region (H) ............ British, 1861-1960

        [for French Polynesia]
      • Place types:
        dependent state (preferred, C) ............ controlled by France since 19th century
        primary political unit (C)
        overseas territory (C) ............ French, since 1958

    • A nation is an independent sovereign nation. A dependent state is politically controlled by the mother country, but has independence in certain areas. Dependent states exclude territories (1) to which the Antarctic Treaty is applicable in whole or in part, (2) without permanent civilian population, (3) without internationally recognized civilian government, or (4) representing unadjudicated unilateral or multilateral territorial claims.

  • Dependencies
    For geographical areas politically controlled by a distant country, but with less autonomy than a dependent state, including dependencies, overseas provinces, dependencies, autonomous districts, external territories, and other similar places, use the specific place type that is described in your source. Note that such entities will often have two parents: their administrative parent and their parent in the physical world. See 3.1 Hierarchical Relationships.

      • Example
        [for Clipperton Island]
      • Place types:
        dependency (preferred, C) ... administered by French Polynesia from 1930, directly by France from 1979



  • Divisions of a nation
    For administrative divisions of a nation, use the place type terms that are preferred locally in the place, if possible; the term should be translated into English, if appropriate (e.g., state and county for the United States; region and province for Italy). As discussed in 3.3 Hierarchical Relationships, the level to which divisions of a nation are assigned must be consistent throughout the entire nation. The place types should also be consistently applied, unless the nation itself prefers to call different divisions by different names for a particular reason (e.g., in Canada, provinces and territories are both first level subdivisions, but have different place types because the entities have different administrative functions).

    • Caveat: It is required to use the following place types to flag significant levels of the current administrative hierarchy. Note that some of these place types are the preferred place type, while others are in position number 2. For further discussion, see chapter 3.3 Hierarchical Relationships.

  • continent (preferred place type)

    primary political unit (place type in positon #2, for nations, empires, etc.)

    first level subdivision (place type in positon #2)

    second level subdivision (place type in positon #2)

    inhabited place (preferred place type)
    or deserted settlement (preferred place type)

    • Caveat: Do not apply the above rule to historical nations, because this would prohibit users from using these place types as intended, which is to build hierarchies of the current political world.



Additional Place Types
Add additional place types for large and important places as time and editorial priorities allow.

      • Examples
city village seaport
kingdom provincial capital diocese
archaeological site island nation satellite community
Buddhist Iron Age fortified settlement
tourist center resort monastery





    • Add additional place types that describe the most important additional characteristics of the place, including its size, function, role, political anatomy, or physical characteristics. Do not include place types that describe the minor roles or characteristics of the place.

      • Example
        [end-user display for Esbjerg, Denmark]





  • Order of the place types
    The place types must be organized according to a set of rules. The order generally represents order of importance, with the preferred place type first, and others listed with current before historical, and then in order of importance. Number the place types as instructed in this section and in Sequence Number below.

  • For inhabited places
    For inhabited places, the place type in position number two should be an indication of the size of the place (e.g., city, town, village).

    • Below inhabited place, list place types describing the current political, strategic, economic, and cultural characteristics of the place. List these place types in the order of prominence or importance. For example, if the place is a seat of government, the place type indicating this should be in position number three (see county seat in the example below).

      • Example
        [for Columbus, Indiana, USA]
      • Place types:
        inhabited place (preferred, C) ............ founded in 1821, developed as center on National Road
        town (C)
        county seat (C)
        industrial center (C) ............ base for Cummins Engine Company, which produces diesel engines; town also manufactures automobile accessories and electronics
        agricultural center (C)
        tourist center (C)

    • Historical place types may follow the current place types, in reverse chronological order or in the order of importance.

      • Example
        [for Beijing, China]
      • Place types:
        inhabited place (preferred, C) ............ site of a city since at least 723 BCE
        city (C)
        national capital (C)
        administrative center (C)
        industrial center (C)
        educational center (C)
        mining center (C)
        capital (H) ............ of China under Yuan Dynasty
        frontier settlement (H) ............ 1122-255 BCE

  • For deserted settlements
    For deserted settlements, list current place types before historical ones. Among the historical place types, inhabited place should be at the top.

      • Examples
        [for Neal, Idaho, USA]
      • Place types:
        deserted settlement (preferred, C) ............ developed with discovery of gold by Arthur Neal in 1889
        ghost town (C)
        inhabited place (H)
        mining center (H)

        [for Cissbury Ring, West Sussex, England]
      • Place types:
        deserted settlement (preferred, C) ............ inhabited from Neolithic to Roman times
        megalithic site (C)
        prehistoric site (C)
        inhabited place (H)
        fortified settlement (H)
        fort (H)
        Iron Age (H)
        Neolithic (H)



Adding new place types
Most necessary terms for place types should already be in the place type list. If you feel you need to add a new place type, try looking for a synonym. If you still feel you must add one, consult with your supervisor.






Preferred Flag (required-default)



Flag indicating whether or not the place type is the preferred place type for its subject record.



The flags are controlled by a pick list in VCS: P - Preferred, V - Variant.



For a discussion of how to determine which place type should be the preferred place type, see Place Type above.



Every record must have a preferred place type to use as a default in displays. For further discussion of preferred place types, see Place Type above.





  • The place type in sequence number one is automatically flagged "preferred" by the system. If this is not correct, change the Preferred Flag and sequence numbers accordingly.






Sequence Number (required-default)



The Display Order number (or Sort Order number), indicating the sequence of the place type in relation to the other place types of a subject record.



System generated, but the numbers may be changed by the editor. Values begin with 1 and are numbered sequentially; there is no upper limit imposed by the system.



Most records have only one to five place types. It would be highly unusual to require more than 15 place types for a place. If you need to add more than that, consult with your supervisor.




  • Number the place types in sequence. Do not skip numbers.
  • The place type in sequence number 1 must be the subject default Preferred place type.
  • Arrange the place types in reverse chronological order, with Current place types placed before Historical ones.
  • Within the subset of current or historical place types that date to the same period, arrange the place types in order of importance. See also the discussion under Additional Place Types above.
      • Example
        [for Honolulu, Hawaii, USA]







Historical Flag (required-default)



Flag indicating the historical status of the place type.



Values are derived from a controlled list: B - Both, C - Current, H - Historical, NA - Not Applicable, U - Unknown.



Use standard authoritative sources to determine whether or not a place type is historical.




  • Current: The default flag is Current. If the place type describes current characteristics or roles of the place, the flag should be set to Current.
  • Historical: If the place type describes a characteristic or role that applies to the place in its past history but does not describe the current state of the place, set the flag to Historical.
  • Both: It is highly unusual for a place type to be Both historical and current. If you feel you have an example of this, consult with your supervisor.
  • Not Applicable: This is used only for facets or temp.parents and other non-published records. Do not use it in any other situation.
  • Unknown: This is used primarily for data loaded from contributors. Editors should avoid using it if possible. If the place type of an entity is unknown, the place should not be published; move it to a temp.parent.






Dates for Place Types



Dates delimiting the period when the place type is or was relevant.




1. Display Date: A free-text field to express nuances of the date to the user; it is indexed by the two indexing fields representing the Start and End Dates implied in the free-text date.

2. Start Date: The exact or estimated earliest year implied in the Display Date.

3. End Date: The exact of estimated latest year implied in the Display Date.

      • Example
        [from the VCS Subject Edit window for Amsterdam, the Netherlands]



Display Date is a free-text field; values may be any ASCII character; no special characters or diacritics are allowed; diacritics must be expressed according to the codes in Appendix A.

  • Start Date and End Date must contain valid years, validated by VCS.



The dates should be determined using the same standard reference sources that supply other information about the place type.



The Display Date for the place type usually refers to a period or date range, however, it may sometimes contain notes that do not explicitly make reference to a date. In such cases, the note should implicitly refer to a date or datable condition or event, because you are required to include a Start Date and End Date with every Display Date.

  • Display dates are indexed with Start Date and End Date. Start and End Dates are controlled by special formatting; dates BCE are represented by negative numbers. If the place type currently applies, the End Date is 9999.




  • Dates are not required. However, if you enter data in any of the three fields, you must enter data in ALL three of the fields.



Dates appropriate for the given place type
Dates should be appropriate for the place type at hand. It is recommended to include the date of habitation or human endeavor at a site, when known. A few examples are included below. For other place types, refer to records with place types that are the same or similar to the one you wish to use.

  • Inhabited places: For the preferred place type inhabited place, note the year or approximate date of founding, chartering, or first settlement. Note that the Start Date may be earlier than the actual founding or chartering; make decisions based on what data is supplied by your sources.

      • Example
        [for Kuching, Malaysia]
        Place Type: inhabited place (preferred, C)
        Display Date: founded by James Brooke in 1839
        Start Date: 1839 End Date: 9999

    • Know your sources; be sure that you thoroughly understand what a source means by founded, etc. Note that many places were inhabited before the actual founding of the city; this is particularly true for colonial settlements (see example for Montreal below).

    • Consider how the date for inhabited place will be enhanced by dates on other place types (as for the place type city in the example below).

      • Example
        [for Montreal, Quebec, Canada]
      • Place Type: inhabited place (preferred, C)
        Display Date: chartered in 1644, on the site of an Amerindian village
        Start Date: 1399 End Date: 9999

      • Place Type: city (C)
        Display Date: incorporated in 1833
        Start Date: 1833 End Date: 9999



  • Deserted settlements: For the preferred place type deserted settlement, record the date span of habitation. Consider how the date for deserted settlement will be enhanced for dates for other place types (e.g., for archaeological site in the example below).

      • Example
        [Monte Covolo, Lombardy, Italy]
        Place Type: deserted settlement (preferred, C)
        Display Date: occupied from the Stone Age to the Roman period; settlement is at base of hill, rock shelters are south of settlement
        Start Date: -10000 End Date: 700

      • Place Type: archaeological site (C)
        Display Date: excavations began on settlement in 1972
        Start Date: 1972 End Date: 9999

  • Historical and current states: For current and historical nations and other states, note the span of time when the entity existed in the form indicated by the place type.

      • Examples
        [for the current nation of Yugoslavia]
      • Place Type: nation (preferred, C)
        Display Date: reconstituted with constituent republics of Serbia and Montenegro on April 27, 1992
        Start Date: 1839 End Date: 9999

        [non-preferred place type for historical Flanders]
      • Place Type: principality (H)
        Display Date: arose in 862, when Baldwin I married the daughter of the western Frankish king, Charles II the Bald; disappeared in French Revolutionary Wars
        Start Date: 862 End Date: 1810

  • Physical features: For physical features, note that the date refers to the physical feature, not human habitation. For example, the dates for the place type island should refer to the date when the island was formed as a physical feature. If you wish to add dates for human habitation, add the place type inhabited region.

      • Example
        [for San Salvador, Bahamas]
      • Place Type: island (preferred, C)
      • Place Type: inhabited region (C)
        Display Date: sighted by explorer Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1492
        Start Date: -1600 End Date: 1892



  • Other place types: For place types other than those discussed above, find precedents in TGN by referring to records that have the same or similar place types.

  • Place types applicable to multiple periods. If the same place type is applicable to two or more different spans of time, enter the place type only once and describe the dates in Display Date. Start and End Dates should represent the entire span covered by both periods.

      • Examples
        [for the United States]
      • Place Type: nation (preferred, C)
        Display Date: declared independence of Britain in 1776; with current constituent states, since 1959
        Start Date: 1776 End Date: 9999

        [non-preferred place type for Moscow, Russia]
      • Place Type: capital (H)
        Display Date: of the United Soviet Socialist Republics and the Russian Soviet Socialist Republics from 1917-1991
        Start Date: 1917 End Date: 1991

  • A brief set of rules for Dates appears below. See also Appendix B and Dates for Names in Chapter 3.3 Names.



Display Date

  • State only what is known
    If a precise span of dates is known, state it. However, precise date spans for place types are rarely known. Where ambiguity exists, use natural word order to clearly state what is known (and only what is known; do not surmise). Follow the style of existing display dates.

      • Examples
        [for Crane Pond, Pike county, Missouri, USA]
      • Place Type: former body of water (preferred, C)
        Display Date: was drained by drainage ditch in 1933
        Start Date: 1700 End Date: 1933

        [for La Plata, Buenos Aires province, Argentina]
      • Place Type: provincial capital (C)
        Display Date: since 1882
        Start Date: 1882 End Date: 9999

        [for Sydney, Australia]
      • Place Type: inhabited place (preferred, C)
        Display Date: founded in 1788
        Start Date: 1788 End Date: 9999

        [for the historical entity, Abbasid Caliphate, Africa]
      • Place Type: caliphate (H)
        Display Date: from the mid-8th century until 1258
        Start Date: 730 End Date: 1258



  • Be objective
    Express all information in a neutral tone. Do not write from a subjective or biased point of view, even if your source expresses a fact in a subjective way. Do not express biased information regarding political situations, people (including aboriginal populations), places, events, or works of art and architecture. Do not say that a European "discovered" a place that was already inhabited by native populations. See the discussion of this topic in chapter 3.4 Descriptive Note.

  • Punctuation
    Do not use full sentences; do not end the display date with a period or any other punctuation. If the Display Date could be ambiguous because it contains more than one phrase, separate them with a semi-colon for clarity.

      • Example
        [for Thebes, Greece]
      • Place Type: inhabited place (preferred, C)
        Display Date: traditionally founded in 1313 BCE; site of Mycenaean ruins
        Start Date: -1700 End Date: 9999

  • Capitalization and abbreviation
    Do not capitalize words other than proper nouns or period names. Avoid abbreviations, except with the word circa (ca.), the numbers in century or dynasty designations (e.g., 17th century), and BCE and CE.

      • Examples
        [non-preferred place type for the nation of Benin, Africa]
      • Place Type: kingdom (H)
        Display Date: 17th century-1892
        Start Date: -1600 End Date: 1892

        [for Los Angeles, California, USA]
      • Place Type: inhabited place (preferred, C)
        Display Date: was site of settlements by the Gabrielino tribe; settled by Spanish expedition headed by Gaspar de Portol$00a in search of mission sites, on 2 August 1769; founded in 1781
        Start Date: 1500 End Date: 9999



  • Calendar in Display Date
    Display Dates should generally be listed by reference to years in the proleptic Gregorian calendar, which is the calendar produced by extending the Gregorian calendar to dates preceding its official introduction. If indicated in a source, dates may be expressed according to systems other than the proleptic Gregorian calendar (e.g., Julian, Napoleonic, Islamic, or other calendars). This should be clearly designated, also noting the year in the proleptic Gregorian calendar to avoid end-user confusion. All dates should be indexed in the Start and End Dates using the proleptic Gregorian calendar for consistency in retrieval (see below).

  • Span of years
    If a precisely delimited span of dates is applicable, list the beginning year of the span first, followed by the end of the span, with the years separated by a hyphen. Include all digits for both years in a span; for example, with four-digit years, do not abbreviate the second year (e.g., 1921-1924, not 1921-24).

    • Caveat: In TGN it is unusual for such specific dates to be known. Do not state specific dates in the Display Date if there is broadly defined information, ambiguity, or uncertainty. For example, instead of writing 1500-1599 in the display date, write 16th century (if that is what is meant).



  • BCE in Display Dates
    Dates before the year 1 in the proleptic Gregorian calendar should be indicated as Before Common Era, which should be abbreviated BCE. For dates after the year 1, it is generally not necessary to include the designation CE (Current Era) except where confusion may occur. For example, for very early years CE, especially if a span of dates begins BCE and ends CE, include both BCE and CE in the free-text date (e.g., 75 BCE-10 CE). Avoid using BC (Before Christ) or AD (Anno Domini). Dates BCE should be indexed with negative numbers in Start and End Dates (see below).

      • Example
        [for Tel Ashqelon, Israel]
        Place Type: deserted settlement (preferred, C)
        Display Date: settled since 3rd millennium BCE, destroyed in 1270 CE
        Start Date: -3000 End Date: 1270

    • Very ancient dates: For very ancient dates, follow scholarly convention, which is to use years ago or before present instead of BCE. Of the two, use the convention used by your source. Do not abbreviate years ago or before present (i.e., do not use YA or BP). Express precisely what is referred to by the date.

      • Example
        [for Laetoli, Tanzania]
        Place Type: prehistoric site (preferred, C)
        Display Date: hominid remains date to 3,590,000 years ago
        Start Date: -3590000 End Date: -2000000



  • Uncertain dates
    If a date is uncertain, use a broad or vague designation (e.g., ancient, in the example below) or words such as ca. and probably.

      • Examples
        [for Gyphtokastro, Greece]
        Place Type: inhabited place (preferred, C)
        Display Date: was an ancient center
        Start Date: -2000 End Date: 9999

        [for Dawson, Yukon Territory, Canada]
      • Place Type: inhabited place (preferred, C)
        Display Date: established ca. 1896
        Start Date: 1890 End Date: 9999


  • Periods and dynasties
    For the names of dynasties and other precisely defined periods, include the dates for the period, when known, in parentheses. Note that the dates in parentheses refer to the dynasty, not specifically to the place type (and in the example below, the Display Date is carefully phrased so as not to preclude earlier habitation).

      • Example
        [for Sawhaj, Egypt Gyphtokastro]
        Place Type: inhabited place (preferred, C)
        Display Date: has remains from the 3rd Dynasty (ca. 2650-ca. 2575 BCE)
        Start Date: -3000 End Date: 9999

    • Exception: For general, broadly defined periods, do not include the span dates in the Display Date, because it will be misleading to the user, implying knowledge of greater specificity than is truly known. (In the example below, stating the dates of the Paleolithic Period (about 2,500,000 to 200,000 years ago) in the Display Date would imply a date older than intended for the place at hand.)

      • Example
        [for Seville, Spain]
        Place Type: inhabited place (preferred, C)
        Display Date: first inhabited in Paleolithic Period
        Start Date: -750000 End Date: 9999



  • Acceptable scope of information in the Display Date
    Ideally, the display date should refer, explicitly or implicitly, to a time period or date associated with the place type as it applies to the place at hand. In some cases, Display Date may be used to record unusual or important information about the place type and the place (see the example below), but not referring explicitly to a date. However, dates should be implicit in the condition or event mentioned and you should have a period or date in mind, because - if you record a Display Date - Start and End Dates are required.

      • Example
        [non-preferred place type for Munich, Germany]
        Place Type: commercial center (C)
        Display Date: especially for book publishing and printing and motion-picture production
        Start Date: 1500 End Date: 9999



Start Date and End Date

  • Delimiting the span
    Record years that delimit the span of time when the place type is applicable, as referenced in the Display Date. If the years are uncertain (as when qualifiers such as ca. or probably were used in the place type display date), approximate years should be calculated and then recorded as Start and End Dates for indexing. These indexing dates should represent the broadest possible span of time represented by the dates in the place type display date; it is better to delimit the span too broadly than too narrowly.

    • Start Date must represent a year earlier than the End Date. In rare cases, the start date and end date may be the same year (but if a place type was only applicable for one year, it is probably not significant enough to include in the first place).

      • Examples
        [for inhabited place, date of the ancient culture is the Start Date]
      • Display Date: settled by Celts
        Start Date:-400 End Date: 9999

        [for noble residence, exact years are known]
      • Display Date: of Hapsburgs, 1278-1918
        Start Date: 1278 End Date: 1918

        [for inhabited place, Start Date is estimated early enough to account for indigenous inhabitants]
      • Display Date: site of ancient Amerindian councils, settled by Europeans in 18th century
        Start Date: 1600 End Date: 9999

        [for lost settlement, dates of the ancient culture are estimated]
      • Display Date: of ancient Philistia
        Start Date: -1200 End Date: -600

        [for military center, the date is known to the century]
      • Display Date: Roman military center from 1st century BCE
        Start Date: -100 End Date: 300

        [for kingdom, source gives vague indication of time frame, Start and End Dates are estimated based on general knowledge of the area]
      • Display Date: ancient
        Start Date: -500 End Date: 1000


  • Do not use punctuation
    Express years in Start and End Dates without commas or other punctuation. An exception is the hyphen, which is used to express negative numbers (dates BCE).

  • Gregorian calendar
    Dates must be expressed in the proleptic Gregorian calendar, which is the Gregorian calendar projected back in time before it came into existence.

  • Current place types
    For a place type that describes a current role or characteristic, use the End Date 9999.

      • Example
        [for the former island, now connected to the mainland, Natick Island, Dukes county, Massachusetts]
        Place Type: peninsula (preferred, C)
        Display Date: since 1725
        Start Date: 1725 End Date: 9999

  • Month and day
    If a specific month and day are referenced in the Display Date, index with the year in Start and End Dates. For the display date, the preferred syntax is day, month, year with no punctuation. The alternative syntax for the Display Date - month, day, comma, year - is found in many legacy records. Do not bother editing records that already contain this syntax, except in order to make the record consistent within itself.

      • Example
        [for the nation of Tuvalu]
        Place Type: nation (preferred, C)
        Display Date: gained independence 1 October 1978
        Start Date: 1978 End Date: 9999

  • Dates BCE
    Express dates BCE by negative numbers, using a hyphen before the number. Do not use commas or any other punctuation.



  • Estimating Start and End Dates
    Estimates are allowed in these fields because they are used for retrieval but not displayed to end users. Use available information to estimate Start and End Dates. In many cases, the years will be approximate. When in doubt, it is better to estimate too broad a span rather than too narrow a span. See the Date Authority in Appendix B for approximate dates of historic events and entities; you should also consult other records in TGN with similar place types to establish dates.

    • If a display date is qualified by ca., early in a century, probably, around, etc., estimate Start and End Dates accordingly. In the example below, the Start Date for around 3700 BCE is estimated to be 200 years earlier, which is an educated guess based on available information.

      • Example
        [for Windmill Hill, Wiltshire, England]
        Place Type: deserted settlement (preferred, C)
        Display Date: probably was occupied seasonally or at festive gatherings, dates to around 3700 BCE; was abandoned around 2000 BCE
        Start Date: -3900 End Date: -1800

    • Often the exact date for when a place was settled (for inhabited place or deserted settlement) is unknown. Dates appropriate for other place types are also often unknown. State the situation vaguely and carefully in the Display Date (e.g., if you do not know when a place was settled or founded, state when the place flourished or prospered); use available information to make educated estimations of habitation or other appropriate dates in Start and End Dates.

      • Examples
        [for Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe; habitation dates are estimated more broadly than the date of prospering]
      • Place Type: deserted settlement (preferred, C)
        Display Date: prospered 13th-15th century
        Start Date: 1100 End Date: 1700

        [for Charax, Iraq, the Start Date of first habitation is estimated earlier than the date noted in legends]
      • Place Type: deserted settlement (preferred, C)
        Display Date: according to legend, was founded by Alexander; flourished in late centuries BCE
        Start Date: -1000 End Date: 1000

    • For very ancient dates, expressed as years ago or before present in the Display Date, translate these dates into approximate years in the proleptic Gregorian calendar for the Start and End Dates.




[1] "Required-default" indicates that a default is automatically set, but should be changed by the cataloguer as necessary.

Last updated 24 June 2015
Document is subject to frequent revisions

Back to Top

The J. Paul Getty Trust
The J. Paul Getty Trust
© J. Paul Getty Trust | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use