Interactive timeline of history
April 20, 2016 2:42 AM   Subscribe

Chronas is a history project linking Wikipedia and Wikidata that lets you use a time slider at the bottom to see how the world looked any given date during the past 2000 years, watching realms grow and disappear. Video describing how it works. If you click on the countries/regions/empires shown, then it will show you the appropriate Wikipedia entry.

Works using Chrome as a browser.

The name Chronas is a combination of Chronos and Atlas.

The goal was to get a better understanding of how the world's history is interconnected. What happened in Asia when Rome dominated Europe? What happened in Arabia when Kublai Khan proclaimed himself the emperor of China?

At a later stage it was decided not only to use political land boundaries but also to add religious and cultural context to a given moment in time. Then markers were added of people living at the selected year, then markers for cities, buildings, battles...

The framework is set for the next phase: to make the content of Chronas editable in the way of OpenStreetMap or Wikipedia. Chronas' moderators will have the rights to add and edit Wikipedia page links and all other data such as the coloring by ruler, religion and culture of a specific time period.

Created by Dietmar Aumann
posted by nickyskye (24 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure whether it's a problem in their data or the algorithm they're using to translate it into map colorings, but their history of post-Roman Western Europe is egregiously bad. They've got Roman successor states like the Kingdom of Soisson or the Visigothic Kingdom of Spain hanging around for many hundreds of years after they were actually destroyed. A timeline where Charlemagne had to deal with the descendants of Aegidius, and the Visigoths rose up to throw off the shackles of their Muslim oppressors might make for an interesting novel, but it's not the timeline we live in.
posted by firechicago at 4:10 AM on April 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

Conveniently, then, I've been working a little bit on an alt-history fantasy Earth recently, with a lot more to come in the future. This seems like a useful resource for that. Thanks for the post!
posted by Caduceus at 5:41 AM on April 20, 2016

Can we move the timeline ahead, to past the election? Please?
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:12 AM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

The historical religion maps are dangerously misleading, at least when it comes to East Asia.
posted by sudasana at 6:18 AM on April 20, 2016

and the Visigoths rose up to throw off the shackles of their Muslim oppressors might make for an interesting novel

I can't get the interface to load, but what.
posted by sukeban at 6:24 AM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ok, so I didn't realize how closely linked the Kingdom of Asturias was to the old Visigoths, but that still doesn't excuse the fact that the Chronas map doesn't seem to think the Emirate of Cordoba existed. It shows whole peninsula unified under Ummayyad rule, then jumps right back to being ruled by "Visigoths" and stays that way until the 11th century.
posted by firechicago at 6:53 AM on April 20, 2016

And reloading the app, it doesn't seem to behave deterministically, at the moment I'm looking at Spain in 774, and it doesn't look anything like it did the last time I loaded at 30AD and moved the timescale forward by about a hundred years at a time. This time the Ummayyads rule chunks of Asturias and Cantabria, with the Visigoths ruling the rest of the peninsula, except for small enclaves controlled by "European Alans" and the Western Roman Empire still hanging on in Barcelona. (But Soissons still rules northern France from the Rhine to Brittany).
posted by firechicago at 7:04 AM on April 20, 2016

After waiting a lot of time, you're right. This is a dozen different varieties of ridiculous, from Galician Umayyads to Asturias not being there (it's the bit to the west of where it's placed in the map) to "Catalunya" (by that time, it was the County of Barcelona) to the "Western Roman Empire" four centuries and more out of date.
posted by sukeban at 7:07 AM on April 20, 2016

As I have said before, thanks to the internet and the ever-rising ubiquity of internet-connected cameras, we are living at the beginning of the time-travel era. This is merely a sample of what lies ahead (behind?)
posted by sexyrobot at 7:18 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

(Also, maybe all those errors were left in on purpose, to troll you into volunteering to work on it for them?)
posted by sexyrobot at 7:22 AM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

AAAAHHHHHH I have wanted this for about a decade! I thought about learning programming just to make it!

posted by permiechickie at 7:55 AM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

I noticed Canada in 1881 being divided into patches of "Canada" and "United Kingdom". It's a beautiful map and idea, but sounds like it has some glitches.
posted by zompist at 8:09 AM on April 20, 2016

Was it deliberately designed to look like Crusader Kings II, right down to the colors and the fonts? Finally, I can conquer the world as a 12th century Norwegian despot!
posted by Roentgen at 8:14 AM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yeah, this is like Civilization, Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, and all rolled into one.
posted by Acey at 8:35 AM on April 20, 2016

Previously (sort of)
posted by Acey at 8:39 AM on April 20, 2016

European Alans is a fair band name.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:49 AM on April 20, 2016

I love the idea and the design. I've wanted something like this forever, and printed "historical atlases" lack the continuity a web interface can bring. However, they definitely need to get their content house straightened out before I pass it around.
posted by chimaera at 8:50 AM on April 20, 2016

It has a LOT of lag when I was playing with it. I think that might be the explaination behind some of the odd behavior people are seeing. When I had it set to 1784 looking for the Republic of Vermont it wasn't there, and there was a listing of the various Native Tribes. I left it open in a tab and when I went back after a short time it looked like everything was actually correct and there was the Vermont Republic nestled amongst the United States of America.
posted by koolkat at 9:10 AM on April 20, 2016

It really does need to get the ability for outside editing - I can see an infinite number of monk... er, history academics only too keen to make sure their particular speciality is accurately delineated.

(I'm looking at a very specialised sort of historical atlas project myself at the moment, for a potential update to an existing resource, so this is very interesting to me. The idea of a universal historical interactive atlas that can support sub-projects that focus on particular periods and incorporate particular corpuses of data is really rather heady)

And I love sexyrobot's time machine take on things. There is a particular class of time travel that's slightly less silly in physics than others, but you can only move between the present and the point in the past where the first time machine was created. This seems entirely analogous, which is an intriguing juxtaposition.
posted by Devonian at 9:17 AM on April 20, 2016

Having just written Dietmar Aumann, the creator of Chronas, pointing out this thread, he wrote back saying,

"Just a note on the comments about inaccuracy, Tell them to sign up as moderator so they can modify the data and enhance the project. It is supposed to be a crowdsourced project like Wikipedia! :-)

posted by nickyskye at 9:21 AM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

MetaFilter: it doesn't look anything like it did the last time I loaded at 30AD
posted by numaner at 10:05 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Tell them to sign up as moderator

For the record, this is entirely unconnected to the "Metaphiltre Empire" which may appear in the 1780s in some sources.
posted by zompist at 10:35 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Norway is called Denmark! They need some serious proofreaders.
posted by mareli at 10:52 AM on April 20, 2016

> Can we move the timeline ahead, to past the election? Please?

They tried, but if you scroll to any year after 2017 the whole map turns black and all of the wikipedia links switch to this. Probably a jquery bug.
posted by lucidium at 8:56 PM on April 20, 2016

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