Mostern, R and Johnson I. From named place to naming event: creating gazetteers for history. International Journal of Geographical Information Systems Volume 22, Number 10, 2008 , pp. 1091-1108(18)

This paper sets out the background to the description of history through linked events which forms the core of the Rethinking Timelines project. It makes the case that historical gazeteers are best represented as a database of events of naming, rather than a database of locations: places in a historical gazeteer have no intrinsic existence - they only exist through the agency of human identification.

Abstract: For historians and other scholars of the human past, gazetteers are best seen as records of events in the histories of places, rather than as indexes of named places per se. This paper discusses the episodic nature of historical temporality, the narrative form of reasoning in history, and the value of using events as the basis or gazetteers in order to reflect the character of knowledge about historical places. It identifies the attributes of a historical event and introduces the idea that historical event gazetteer must build networks of relationships among events in order to effectively represent historical narrative. It reviews relevant bodies of literature and proposes a procedure for identifying chronological, mereological, and causal relationships among historical events. Finally, it suggests new directions in spatiotemporal visualization of history, with reference to a prototype developed by the authors.

Keywords: Gazetteer; Event; Chronology; History; Narrative; Spatiotemporal Visualization.