Ancient Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese observers left us records of celestial sightings, the so‑called "guest stars" dated up to ∼2500 years ago. Their identification with modern observable targets could open interesting insights into the long‑term behavior of astronomical objects, as shown by the successful identification of eight galactic supernovae. Here, we evaluate the possibility to identify ancient classical novae with presently known cataclysmic variables (CVs). For this purpose, we have developed a method which reconsiders in detail positions and sizes of ancient asterisms, in order to define areas on the sky that should be used for a search of modern counterparts. These areas range from a few to several 100 square degrees, depending on the details given in ancient texts; they should replace the single coordinate values given by previous authors. Any appropriate target (CVs, X‑ray binaries etc.) within these areas can be considered as a valid candidate for identification with the corresponding ancient event. Based on the original descriptions of several 100 old events, we selected those without movement and without a tail (to exclude comets) and which was not only visible within a certain hour (to exclude meteors). This way, we present a shortlist of 24 most promising events which could refer to classical nova eruptions. Our method is checked by applying it to the known SN identifications, leading to a margin of error between 0 and 4.5 degrees, meaning that some SN remnants lay exactly inside the areas given by the historical reports while in some other cases they are laying at considerable distances.