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The Ebb and Flow Of History
July 15, 2014 4:59 PM   Subscribe

A dynamic map of world history since 3000 BC. Link starts at 338 BCE, the year before the first conquests of Alexander.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (25 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite

 
476->477: Fall of the (Western) Roman Empire
posted by stbalbach at 5:35 PM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I might say, this actually maps exploration from an Indo-european perspective. I know it's hard to track Native American movements, but still.
posted by Snowishberlin at 5:38 PM on July 15, 2014


843-844: Creation of (future) France and Germany
posted by stbalbach at 5:43 PM on July 15, 2014


1258: sacking of Baghdad... watch the empire collapse around that. The Mongols were coming. And a huge moment in history.
posted by Snowishberlin at 5:48 PM on July 15, 2014


This is like the coolest game of Risk ever.
posted by baniak at 6:08 PM on July 15, 2014


Snowishberlin: I might say, this actually maps exploration from an Indo-european perspective. I know it's hard to track Native American movements, but still.

Well it really does cover history, which strictly speaking means the stuff that's written down. Anything happening outside the tiny circle of literacy is literally prehistoric. (One can use archaeology, folklore, and linguistics-based guesses, but it's all pretty crude.) Aboriginal Australia, Siberia, sub-Saharan Africa in ancient times ... we don't really know very much, especially not with the year-by-year and border-by-border detail those maps require.

To take an example from Native North America, the city of Cahokia in Illinois was built by a powerful group, who were all or part of the "Mississippian" culture. Archaeologists can trace the Mississippians' influence, and set approximate dates on their rise and fall. But nobody has a clue who they were in terms of modern Indian nations: Cherokees? Chickasaws? Some other tribe nowhere near the site at the time Europeans contacted them, because they'd been pushed westwards by the ripple effect of English conquest on the East Coast earlier? (Definitely not the Illinois Confederacy, though, who moved in centuries afterwards.)

I have wistful dreams sometimes of discovering a book or website that sets out in detail like this one the history of the last 100,000 years everywhere on Earth. If I had a time machine, that's what I'd do!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 6:31 PM on July 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Harvey Kilobit: I know! I was just in Santorini, and went to a prehistoric excavation site, and debated with the wife about what was pre-history: that which covered literacy or that which covered some kind of recorded history, like ruins that were four storeys tall.

I'm just waiting for passive time travel like in that Orson Scott Card novel I can't remember the name of. I totally agree with you that this map tracks recorded history, and measures empires as they were measured more than migration. My bad.
posted by Snowishberlin at 6:45 PM on July 15, 2014


Me like! I've seen other maps of this kind, but often they're videos or, worse, gifs that blast through years and decades like an Indy driver on crack. With this I can take my own sweet time with it.
posted by zardoz at 7:05 PM on July 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Great that there are hyperlinks to...somewhere. Wikipedia? Site seems to be down.
posted by zardoz at 7:18 PM on July 15, 2014


yeah the links all go to Wikipedia.
posted by BinGregory at 7:23 PM on July 15, 2014


I'm just waiting for passive time travel like in that Orson Scott Card novel I can't remember the name of.

It was called Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. I really really liked the book but man is it slow to get started. I showed it to a friend who gave up after 30 pages or so because there was no hint of any story developing at all.

I actually like the plot so much I think you should just read the wiki summary if you're never planning on reading the book =P Delicious alternate historical timelines.
posted by xdvesper at 9:36 PM on July 15, 2014


This is amazing. Thanks so much for positing this. Just type in "1245"--BOOM. Mongols. Everywhere. And I've been replaying the Russian expansion into Siberia over and over, it happens so quickly. And all of the changes in central Asia, circa late antiquity...this is fascinating! I have a feeling I'm going to be up all night.... :)
posted by k8bot at 10:24 PM on July 15, 2014


If you click on timeline, there's even more features to explore here. My roommate and I just scrolled through all of history and now I'm playing with the timelines and I'm never going to do anything productive again.
posted by lookoutbelow at 11:20 PM on July 15, 2014


630 AD: Muhammad and his followers gain control of Mecca.

720 AD: The Umayyad Caliphate stretches from Portugal to Pakistan.
posted by foobaz at 11:53 PM on July 15, 2014


Does the "play" button at the bottom actually work? Because I'd like to just watch the years go by, and not have to click a button repeatedly.

Tried this on both Safari and Chrome in Mavericks. Nothing in either one.
posted by hippybear at 12:19 AM on July 16, 2014


"And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer."

- Hans Gruber
posted by phaedon at 1:29 AM on July 16, 2014


This is incredible. I've been listening to a bunch of history podcasts and trying to wrap my head around the spaces that historical tribes, states and empires occupied using a whole bunch of thumbnail Wikipedia maps all in different styles has been very confusing. Having them in a consistent format like this is absolutely fantastic.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:30 AM on July 16, 2014


Yes, how do you get it to play? Or am I misunderstanding something? (Quite likely, knowing me.)
posted by Liesl at 6:35 AM on July 16, 2014


Liesl: "Yes, how do you get it to play? Or am I misunderstanding something? (Quite likely, knowing me.)"

There's a year-based player at the bottom of the map - you can enter up to 9 separate years and then hit the play button to advance through them.

Here's 100AD to 1000AD across the world.

And here's 1936 - 1945, focused on Europe.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:08 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well it really does cover history, which strictly speaking means the stuff that's written down. Anything happening outside the tiny circle of literacy is literally prehistoric.

Which is itself a profoundly ethnocentric definition of history, turning it into a sort of Eddie Izzard parody, "Oh you don't have flagswriting? Then sorry, no writing, no history! Those are the rules I just come up with."

This is very much a false dichotomy as history and archaeology do profoundly overlap to create our picture of the past. Without the archaeological investigations, would we have to take the Aeneid or the Iliad at face value? What about the story of Exodus, or disagreements between the book of Kings and the Sennacherib Prism?

The map isn't even internally consistent on the "history = writing" front, at least not if we're going with writing that we can read. It includes the Minoans, with their undeciphered Linear A, but includes not a single Preclassic Maya polity, with inscriptions from which we can at least read the calendric information. The Maya themselves apparently don't exist except as a vague geographic label until the Classic period, which means that major sites like Kaminaljuyu get erased from history, but Greek colonies in the Mediterranean get individually noted.

So yes, there is bias in the map, and proffering an inconsistent ethnocentric rationale does not change that fact. That maps like these project a presentist view of nation-states with clearly delineated borders onto past polities is another bias. As a standard convention though, that is less avoidable than simply not including the major early states of Mesoamerica (and putting the Zapotec in the Valley of Mexico at some point?).
posted by Panjandrum at 8:50 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thanks very much!
posted by Liesl at 9:48 AM on July 16, 2014


Are people aware of the Penguin Atlases of History, by Colin McEvedy? There's three of them, covering Ancient, Medieval, and Modern European-centered history. There are maps every 30-200 years, depending on how much the borders and peoples are moving. There's also a page long write up describing the changes from the last map. These are possibly my favorite history books. Looks like there are also African and North American ones too, but I haven't seen them (yet).

(They revamped the artwork a few years ago, adding color, but I prefer the old, black and white, lots of different styles of stippling versions myself. I think they're actually easier to read, along with the old-style charm. If you're shopping on-line I think you can just check that the only author listed is Colin McEvedy.)
posted by benito.strauss at 9:52 AM on July 16, 2014


Oh God, I've been looking for something like this for years. Something approximating the "summary replay" at the end of a game of Civ. Thanks so much!
posted by Acey at 10:11 AM on July 16, 2014


(Psst - if you input your start date as -3000 and end date as 2014, you can use the buttons at the top to skip through the years manually. If you are like me, you can even have this playing while you do it. Very cool!)
posted by Acey at 10:31 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


ahhhh this is hella cool! I wish I had it while listening to The History of Rome but I am glad I have it for my listen through The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps
posted by rebent at 11:48 AM on July 16, 2014


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