Military paper maps and satellite images are useful for navigation and accuracy, but they are less useful for database management. In trying to grapple with a site gazetteer for the northwestern Peloponnese, I have concluded that the best solution is to use another set of maps, the 1:250,000 Nomos sheets from the Statistical Service of Greece. These can be bought at the Statistical Service offices near Omonia Square. They are particularly useful because they show the boundaries of Greece's official political units, in descending order from Nomos (province), to Demos (municipality), to Diamerisma (community). The Greek government has given these boundaries to ERSI and are available as shapefiles through an expensive package of ArcGIS. ArcGIS has additional parcels, such as Greek postal codes, which might be equally useful. The nice thing about the Statistical Service shapefiles is that they correspond to the numbering system used by the National Census since the first census of 1963 (the most recent one taken in 2000). For the western Peloponnese, we have wonderful demographic data: an Ottoman census (1461/3), the Corner census (1689), the Grimani census (1700), a continuous series of 19th-c data (Pouqueville, French Expedition to the Morea, etc.), and Greek government data. As far as I know, nobody has put these figures in GIS. With such a database, one can very easily, for example, do dynamic queries about population shifts in the Greek countryside. Demographic changes can also be correlated with topography and natural resources.
GIS requires unique identifiers for every piece of data. Hence, the numbers that correspond to Greece's geographic units are very useful for organizing any site-based table. In descending order, the organizational hierarchy of the Statistical Service is Nomos (Province), Demos (Municipalities), and Diamerisma (Community). The English terms in translation are precisely the ones that ArcGIS uses in their shapefiles. The numbers are consistent and all-inclusive sets. So if you check for village Neohori, where Fred Cooper runs his archaeological field school, you’ll find the following numbers:
Province: 14 (Ilia)
Municipality: 1411 (Zaharo)
Community: 1411130 (Neohori)
The Diamerisma (Community) boundaries are the smallest geographical units defined by Greece. The Nomos (Province) of Eleia, for example, has about 400 parcels. So, if you are making a database of any series of items within that area, you can use the 8-number integer as the prefix. Or if you want to use the larger geographical unit of Demos (Municipality)--about a dozen for each Province)--you can use the 4-number integer as the prefix. Additional numbers can be added for the set of items within that unit.