Short Introduction

Trismegistos Places is a database of currently 62856 ancient and modern places (Geo table), all somehow connected with the ancient world. In the long term it aims to include all place names mentioned in ancient sources (GeoRef table, now 261304 attestations), but also all places where texts from the ancient world (800 BC - AD 800) have been found or written (GeoTex table, now 1008575 provenances). Right now, however, only place names mentioned in documents from Egypt and those occurring in Latin inscriptions have been systematically connected (see below coverage).

What is a place?

The term 'place' is used in the broadest sense, referring not only to towns and villages, but also to regions, districts and to all kinds of micro-toponyms (e.g. town quarters and streets, kleroi and other plots of land, rivers, sanctuaries). A place can have more than a single name, depending on the language, the period or the type of text: e.g. the names Apollonopolis Megale (Magna) / Ano (Superior), Apollonias, Behdet, Bachthis, Polis Phoibou and Mesen all refer to the place that nowadays is called Edfu. All toponyms referring to one place are listed in a single record, which has a unique numeric TM Geo ID. This number contains no information: places are just assigned random numbers as they are entered. If two places are identified and their cards joined, the TM Geo ID of the old card is preserved but henceforward contains only a reference to the new card.

Trismegistos Places includes both ancient and modern places. Ancient places are attested in literary or documentary sources, and modern places are included insofar an ancient document has been found there. For ancient places, it is not always clear whether an expression is a real toponym or rather a common noun referring to a geographical item (e.g. 'the city', also called topographical appellatives in linguistic studies). Here Trismegistos follows the practical rule that any toponym listed in the geographical index of a publication is also listed in the geographical database.

How to use the search facilities

Ancient administrative affiliation: region, provincia, ...

The field 'ancient region' refers to the area to which the place belonged in the third century BC (for a full list, click here). Specifically for Egypt, this field contains references to the nomes of Lower and Upper Egypt and to some areas outside the Nile valley (for a full list and the abbreviations used for these nomes, click here).

The field 'Roman provincia' refers to the area to which the place belonged around AD 200 (for a full list, click here). For Italy this field contains references to the eleven regiones created in 41 BC (for a full list, click here).

For a survey of the modern countries in relation to regions and Roman provinciae, click here. The attribution of a place to a specific region or provincia is sometimes arbitrary and suggestions in this respect are welcome.

If a place at some point belonged to another region or provincia than the main ones listed, this information is added in the field 'Other adm. affiliation'. Also the information about the smaller districts (conventus, toparchiai, merides, ...) to which an ancient place belonged, is listed in this field.

The field 'Status' contains information about the nature of the toponym. General categories are described in English (e.g. city, village, area, well), but they are accompanied by the more specific terms (in Latin alphabet transcription) used in the sources (e.g. civitas, kome, dorea, fons) (for a full list, click here).

Modern administrative affiliation: country, region, ...

Every place is ascribed to a modern country, for which the English name is used as standard designation (for a full list, click here). The modern districts, provinces, Länder and so on, on the other hand, are listed in the fields 'Modern region' and 'Location'. The first field refers to the largest administrative division that exists in a country (France: région; Germany: Land; United Kingdom: country; Spain: comunidad autónoma; Belgium: gewest). Smaller administrative units are given in the field 'Location'. This field can also contain more precise geographical information, e.g. the proximity to a town, a river or some other geographical feature.

When the identification between an ancient and a modern place is not certain, there are two options. If the identification is probable (but not proven), both names are listed on a single card, adding a question mark. If the identification is only possible or if contradictory identifications have been suggested, two cards are created, each with a note in the field 'Identification' about the possible link between the two places.

It is not always easy to determine which modern name should be used to refer to an ancient site: the name of the modern hamlet, the village, the town or the major city in the neighbourhood, ... If there is only a single ancient site, there is no risk of confusion, and all four names can be listed in the field 'Variants'. If there are, however, several sites on the territory of the town, the name of the hamlet or village are used as standard name to avoid confusion, with a reference to the town in the field 'Location'.

Combining onomastics and topographic information

Because the information about a single place is split up over several fields, the onomastics and topographical information can be concatenated in various ways, e.g. as a 'full name' consisting out of the modern country, the ancient region, the ancient standard name and the modern standard name between brackets, e.g. Egypt, U15 - Hermopolis (El-Ashmunein); United Kingdom, Britannia - Londinium (London); Italy, Campania - Nea Polis (Napoli).

Repertoria and other bibliography

If a place is listed in one of the major geographical corpora, a bibliographical reference is added in the field 'Repertoria'. E.g. for Egypt: the Dizionario of Calderini and Daris, the Dictionnaire of Gauthier and Das christlich-koptische Ägypten of Timm; regional corpora for Egypt: Wessely (Topographie), P. Tebt. 2, Drew-Bear (Hermopolite), Pruneti (Ossirinchite), Falivene (Herakleopolite nome) and Benaissa (Oxyrhynchite nome); for Britain: Rivet and Smith (The place-names of Roman Britain). Other bibliographical references can be added in the field 'Bibliography'.


The field 'Maps' contains bibliographical references to published maps. For a limited number of places Trismegistos provides a direct link to Google Maps: see the link to the left. Trismegistos intends to provide for each place a link with Pleiades.


In the field 'Note' all kinds of remarks can be made. E.g. when the reading of a toponym has been corrected by scholars, and the name is no longer attested in any source, we label it 'ghost name' and add information in the field 'Note' about the new reading or the new identification.

How to cite

Please consult this page.


Coverage of toponym attestations, mainly for Egypt and the Nile Valley (but see Latin epigraphy below)

Trismegistos Places consists of several tables, but the most important distinction is that between TM Geo and TM Georef. TM Geo is a table of places. Its coverage is hard to estimate, as there is not a finite number of places: new entries will be added when texts from places previously not attested in the database are added (see the coverage of Trismegistos Texts), or when the texts themselves refer to localities that were previously not included in the database.
For TM Georef, the database with attestations of the places in the ancient sources, the following tables provide estimations of the current coverage for published documents.

800 BC - AD 800

Language / Script / Genre Coverage of Trismegistos Places (estimated)
Greek papyrology almost 100%
Greek epigraphy for Egypt almost 100%; for elsewhere almost nothing
Latin papyrology almost 100%
Latin epigraphy for Egypt almost 100%; for elsewhere ca. 90%
Demotic papyrology and epigraphy almost 100%
Hieroglyphic and hieratic papyrology almost nothing
Hieroglyphic and hieratic epigraphy almost nothing
Coptic papyrology almost nothing
Coptic epigraphy almost nothing
Aramaic papyrology and epigraphy ca. 95%
Meroitic epigraphy almost nothing
Old Nubian papyrology and epigraphy almost nothing
Arabic papyrology almost nothing

Before 800 BC

Language / Script / Genre Coverage of Trismegistos Places (estimated)
Hieroglyphic and hieratic papyrology almost nothing
Hieroglyphic and hieratic epigraphy almost nothing

After AD 800

Language / Script / Genre Coverage of Trismegistos Places (estimated)
Greek papyrology and epigraphy almost 100%
Old Nubian papyrology and epigraphy almost nothing
Coptic papyrology almost nothing
Coptic epigraphy almost nothing
Arabic papyrology almost nothing
Arabic epigraphy almost nothing
Hebrew material (e.g. Geniza) almost nothing

For unpublished documents, the coverage is again almost nothing, as we wait for the publications of the text before adding references.


Trismegistos Places is based on the foundations of the Fayum Project (Graeco-Roman Egypt) of the KULeuven and the work done for the project Multilingualism and Multiculturalism in Graeco-Roman Egypt of Cologne University. It was fully reworked in a project sponsored by the Hercules Foundation, and afterwards expanded to places outside Egypt in the framework of the CIP Europeana EAGLE project.


A database of places related to the ancient world.
General coordination: H. Verreth and M. Depauw
Database structure (Filemaker 12-18): M. Depauw, T. Gheldof
Online version (PHP & MySQL): M. Depauw
Online version (web design): Y. Broux
Data processing: H. Verreth

Based on the Fayum project:
General coordination: W. Clarysse and K. Vandorpe
Database structure (Filemaker 7-11): B. Van Beek
Online version (PHP & MySQL): J. Clarysse, B. Van Beek
Data processing: B. Van Beek; formerly H. Proost, I. Uytterhoeven