The mention of Uruk provides an opportunity to discuss a special problem in history, namely that places change their names. In the Bible the city called Uruk, its ancient Sumerian name, was referred to as Erech, one of the cities of Nimrod. Today the same location appears on the map as Warka. Geographically each of the three names designates the same place; historically the names indicate different times, just as the name of the czarist capital of St. Petersburg was changed to Leningrad, and then changed back to St. Petersburg in recent years.
Furthermore, the choice of a name may suggest acceptance of one position or another in a controversy, as when the British refer to the Falkland Islands, and the Argentines (taking the name from the French) call the same islands Las Malvinas. Throughout this text the place name appropriate to the time under discussion will be used; for example, Russia and the Soviet Union were never synonymous terms. Many African nations today have names that are quite different from those the same areas bore during the age of imperialism.
Political events often lead to changes of place names, as when communities named Berlin in Canada and the United States were given new names during World War I. Consult a good atlas if you are not sure of how names convey political values. However, where appropriate or essential, the text will refer to changes of name to avoid the more obvious confusions.
Pronunciation is another problem for historians because the same name takes on different pronunciations as languages change. The currently accepted pronunciation will be supplied in the index where it seems necessary. But the authors will assume that readers can pronounce, or by consulting a good dictionary or encyclopedia can learn the correct pronunciation of, names common to Western culture, such as Dante, Goethe, Freud. Any student of history must, therefore, have at hand a good atlas and a substantial dictionary, for no text can adequately substitute for these tools of civilization.