Wednesday, August 23, 2017

SearchResearch Challenge (8/23/17): How can we find place names even after they've changed?

Finding names is often simple... 

... but it can get complicated if (and when) names change.  

People change names, often when they marry or change their names for professional reasons.  Take, for instance, Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, aka “Sting.”  Names can get arbitrarily complicated when people change their professional names multiple times (such as the rapper born as Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., who has been known by the names Snoop Rock, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Snoop Lion, DJ Snoopadelic, Snoopzilla Bigg, Snoop Dogg, and Snoop Scorsese).  And, of course, to make it REALLY difficult, there are artists like Prince RogersNelson, aka Prince, who also used the songwritier aliases of Jamie Starr, Joey Coco, Tora Tora, Alexander Nevermind, and Christopher Tracy.  He is, of course, also referred to as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince (TAFKAP), and has the difficult to search for symbol:

Go ahead for for this artist's name.  "Search by Image" works well here.  

Today, though, let’s think just about place names.   

For instance, the city of Venice, Italy, is known as “Venezia” in Italian, and has a nickname of “La Serenissima.  But historically it was known to Latin speakers as Venetia, and to the Greeks as Ἐνετοί.  

Likewise, the Greek island of Crete, with its long history, has many names:  Modern Greek-Κρήτη  ['kriti]; Ancient Greek: Κρήτη, [Krḗtē]; Candia (to the Venetians), and Kaptara before that it was known to the ancient world as Κρήτη!  

Probably the best-known name-shifting city is the city-currently-known-as Istanbul, which was previously known as Constantinople.  (There’s even a song about the name change! “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”) 

Mosque in Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

 So let's spend some time working on a few Challenges on this topic.  Can you figure these out? 

1. Where is El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula?  What is that city called today?  What would that place have been called in 1600?

2. Where is/was Humqaq?  What was that place called in the late 1500s?   3. Where is the city of Óbuda?  And what’s this place called now?  4. What was the name of the country where the city of Dar Es Salaam is... before 1964?  (That is, if you're looking for historical documents about the city of Dar Es Salaam, what country do you need to look for?)  
5. What was the name of the capital of Zaire in 1900?

6.  You probably did a number of searches to answer these Challenges.  Is there a single reference work (hopefully online!) that would let you answer all of these questions?  What would should a work be called? 

These Challenges range from simple to tricky.  I hope you enjoy finding these answers as much as I did!  

In my answers (next week), I'll talk about what the challenges are of finding place names, especially as names change over time and language.  

As always, be sure to tell us not just the answer, but ALSO what queries you did to find the answers!  (Be sure to tell us if you just knew it off the top of your head!)   

Search on! 



  1. I grew up in Southern California, so I thought: Isn't that LA?
    In those days the smog was really bad; when I taught at Chaffey High School, early 60's, there were days when you couldn't see from one end of the block to the other. I remember hearing that LA, because of its geographical formation, had trapped smoke long before cars, and the Indians had named it accordingly.
    So I confirmed the name by googling it in quotes, and confirmed an earlier name.

  2. Hello Dr. Russell and everyone

    1. Where is El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula? What is that city called today? What would that place have been called in 1600?



    Wikipedia Italian version mentions Los Angeles got the name from this Church.

    [Assisi region previous name]

    ...region such names as Umbria santa, Umbria mistica and la terra dei santi (land of saints)...

    From link on Wikipedia:

    Visit Assisi that links to

    porziuncola org Includes video

    *Note: For some reason, Chrome Translate to English doesn’t work

    Answer Assisi, Italy. Place name was “Our Lady of the Valley of Josaphat or of the Angels”.

    I need to do more searches. My Grandparents liked a lot St. Clare and the Order of Poor Clares so that makes it even more interesting and a good way to remember them.

    2. Where is/was Humqaq? What was that place called in the late 1500s?


    Wikipedia Article
    *Humqaq means: "The Raven Comes") in the Chumashan languages

    Answer Humqaq or Point Conception is in California. Name was: Cabo de Galera

    3. Where is the city of Óbuda? And what’s this place called now?


    Óbuda was a city in Hungary


    Spanish: “ Budapest’s History is the History of three Cities”

    Answer The city is in Hungary and now is called Budapest.

    For Q6, I am thinking some kind of Atlas or Toponymy tool. Still don’t have an answer. I’ll return with the next SRS Challenge questions.

    1. More about Q6:

      [toponymy change through time]

      The change of names over time Site links to:

      Atlas of names Samples look interesting but maps have a price. Therefore, not the answer we looking for this Challenge.

      [atlas of names]

      These Maps Show The True Meaning Of Places Around The World Some names are very funny.

    2. When I posted my previous comment, thought why not to try:

      [place city name change over time]

      This is a list of cities and towns whose names were officially changed at one or more points in history. There searched with Ctr-F "Mexico" and others like "California" and found: El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de la Porciuncula → Los Angeles. So I think that you asked for this and not for the Italy's site.

      Went to Wikipedia link and found Los Angeles In 1771, Franciscan friar Junípero Serra directed the building of the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, the first mission in the area.[25] On September 4, 1781, a group of forty-four settlers known as "Los Pobladores" founded the pueblo they called "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula;" in English, this translates as "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula."

      Father Junipero has been already on some of SRS Challenges.

      [Los Angeles california name through history]

      Where Did the Name Los Angeles Come From?

      New Albion (1579) Not exactly Los Angeles

      A permanent colonial settlement was established on 4 September 1781 as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles di Porciúncula. It was named in honor of the shrine to the Virgin Mary, Santa Maria degli Angeli, Our Lady of the Angels, on the plain below Assisi, Saint Francis' native village in Italy

    3. 4. What was the name of the country where the city of Dar Es Salaam is... before 1964? (That is, if you're looking for historical documents about the city of Dar Es Salaam, what country do you need to look for?)

      [Dar Es Salaam]

      Dar es Salaam data I almost made same mistake in Q1. So re-read before writing my answer.

      To verify: [Tanzania previous name]

      Tanzania’s History

      Not Capital anymore

      Answer German East Africa became Tanganyika and got independence in 1961. Then, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form Tanzania. Therefore we need to search for Tanganyika.

      5. What was the name of the capital of Zaire in 1900?

      [Zaire capitals through history]


      Went to Wikipedia article
      Searched with Ctrl-f for “Capital” and then the Capital

      Searched with Ctrl-f “Renamed”


      The actual Zaire was “Democratic Republic of the Congo” in 1900 and the Capital was: Léopoldville. In 1966, Léopoldville was renamed Kinshasa

      Posting at this moment, notice new posts by Remmij. I'll read them. Thanks, Remmij

    4. [Wikipedia:] "From 1886 until 1926, the Governor-general and his administration were posted in Boma, near the Congo River estuary. From 1926, the colonial capital moved to Léopoldville, some 300 km further upstream in the interior. The government abandoned the use of colonial place names in 1966: Léopoldville was renamed as Kinshasa, Elisabethville as Lubumbashi, Stanleyville as Kisangani.
      Zaire collapsed in the 1990s, amid the destabilization of the eastern parts of the state in the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide and growing ethnic violence. In 1996,Laurent-Désiré Kabila, the head of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) militia, led a popular rebellion against Mobutu. With rebel forces successfully making gains beyond the east, Mobutu fled the country, leaving Kabila's forces in charge as the country restored its name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo the following year. Mobutu died within four months after he fled into exile in Morocco."

      Albert l, Leopold ll's nephew, standing, far right… the statue thing isn't new… Leopold ll makes R.E.L. & Traveler look like a 'piker'… 'a piker', not a pickled packer
      18 kings… "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown", from Shakespeare's play Henry IV, Part 2
      3:03 - Frank is a prince… and heavy is coming… being a monarch encourages a certain kind of insanity/delusion
      statue of Leopold II
      video 2008
      leopold 2 SERP
      the terror-rific, peace loving Euros…
      HMS Daphne, 1868
      bananas in Norway around the same time… Bama

    5. Tried using "database" and similar terms with no results at the moment.

      [cities countries renamed through time online]

      Nations Online (Home) Site shows Historical countries name, for example, among other data.

      [cities countries renamed history]

      Timeline of country and capital changes

      Another list:Timeline of world map changes

  3. took 5-6 searches for basic answers, more to flesh out, confirm, run down points of interest… didn't find a satisfying result for #6 - wikipedia comes the closest?
    (btw, "Changes in SearchResearch. (Simpler Challenges…)" doesn't seem that much simpler - not a complaint…)
    Humqaq - western gate, Womponamon/Montauk - the eastern gate
    Syukhtun - rock art
    Avikwame - Noah - Oatman Massacre
    Boma/Léopoldville (since renamed Kinshasa) nexus
    worth looking large - the Nine Kings of Boma, Congo Free State, c. 1890,
    'In and Out of Focus: Images from Central Africa, 1885-1960'
    Hezekiah Shanu Andrew
    not a bad reference, but still requires further search
    • Byzantion → Byzantium → Constantinopolis/Constantinople → Konstantiniyye → Istanbul
    promising, but subscription
    after reading Anne's comment:
    Baya de los Fumos, or Bay of the Smoke
    L.A. specific derivations
    fwiw - early discarded TAFKAP design - too zoomorphic?
    double Paisley Park
    just for grins - the Blue Mosque
    dawn in 'bul
    kinda interesting, Seattle Globalist!
    alt search tools…
    this might be more my speed - Kiddle
    example - Blue Mosque
    more 'kids'
    search filters
    curious - wondered about the filters and what is in & out… besides burgers IN-N-OUT
    sex & nazis strike out - full circle
    Jeff Koons, Gazing Ball (Tintoretto The Origin of the Milky Way)
    tried a couple on kiddle - stumbled onto the misspelling glitch… who decides?
    would think spelling errors would be rather common
    …but I digress

  4. 1. I knew that is Los Angeles. has an article explaining the many names possibley used. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo named this natural harbor Bahia de los Fumos or "Bay of Smokes." On October 8, 1542, when Cabrillo noted in his log that the bay "is an excellent harbor and the country is good with many plains and groves of trees," Port of Los Angeles. No idea what the locals called it.

    2. [hunqaq] wikipedia finds Cabrillo in 1542 named it Cabo de Galera. No idea what the inhabitants called it though.

    3. [obuda] finds Wikipedia was a city in Hungary now merged into Budapest

    4. [dar es salaam] wikipedia finds its in Tanzania

    5. [Zaire] wikipedia finds Congo. further clicking says it was Congo Free State from 1885 to 1908.

    6. [historical gazetteers] finds which halfway down the page has a listing of online world gazetteers. I found that worked well

    However, Wikipedia was good too.

  5. 5. missed this: Boma was the capital of Congo Free State. Wikipedia: Boma, Democratic Republic of the Congo until 1926

    1. I was wondering if you'd missed that! Nice catch.

  6. 1. Los Angeles, but in the 1600s, it might have been called Cahuenga by one of the many tribes that inhabited the region. The big breakthrough in my research was realizing that in the 1600s Los Angeles was inhabited by native tribes. After finding the names of tribes native to the area, I focused on the ___ tribe. Searching [G___ language dictionary] pulled up a resource that referenced the name of a G__ town, Cahuenga.A secondary wikipedia search of the town cited a database that is a gold mine for questions like these: the Geographic Names Information System, a federal repository of domestic geographic names data.

    2. For the first question, a quick Wikipedia search tells us that Humqaq is a headland along the Pacific coast of the U.S. state of California, located in southwestern Santa Barbara County. As for the second, this information was much more difficult to find. After a lot of unproductive searching I landed on [early settlements chumash] which let to a chronology of California’s earliest settlers. In the 1500s, Santa Barbara was referred to Syuhtun, by the Chumash people.

    3. A Wikipedia article explains that Obuda was a city in Hungary that is now part of modern day Budapest.

    4. Tanganyika. After finding a reference to the merging of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, I searched images to confirm that Dar Es Salaam was part of Tanganyika and found a very detailed map from Encyclopedia Britannica: This map dating back to 1914 confirms this answer.

    5. Boma. Again Wikipedia, an article for Zaire referenced that the country was called Congo Free State in 1900. A click through to that name pulled up Boma as the capital.