The <place> element was introduced in early 2006 or thereabouts
(i.e., pre-release of P5) along with the rest of the "personography"
elements. While it's semantic description hasn't really changed since
then (I don't think), its precise content model has been updated over
the years. (E.g., <list> and <idno> are now allowed inside <place>,
and they weren't originally.)
P3 and P4 did not have a <place>. The <place> element of P2 was what
we now call <placeName>: "contains the name of, or a reference to, a
place". P1 had a <place> that was only allowed as a child of
<publication>, <distribution>, or <release>, all of which were header
elements I think.
If you're up for the ride, see
which will give you it's recent history ad nauseum.
> If it's not too much trouble, would I be able to also ask about the
> history of the <place> tag? I'm curious at what stage it came into
> use and how its description has changed over time. Was it ever used
> to describe non-geographic locations? Any information would be much