Delicious Visual Map of History

Maria Popova, author of the always thought-provoking site Brain Pickings, once wrote a piece about the book Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline. This map, made in 1931, is a page from that book and left me with no option but to stare at it for 20 minutes. Nice way to put the great empires of the past in both time and magnitude perspective. Click on the image to expand it if you want to read the small font info.


Want the long, long history of things? Here you go.

  • Grunt

    So there is a massive spike of Mongolian power every 800 years or so (Attila – 450, Genghis Khan – 1250). We’re due for another Mongol invasion in 2050…

    • Nishit

      As per the chart, mongols civilisation is over. Only two civilasations stand from the start to the end.. India and China

      • kew bee

        Not so sure about India.
        (Cue: shrieks of outrage) 😛

        • Nishit


      • wobster109

        Yes, I was surprised how incredibly old India and China are. The entirety of the US is last half page of poster. They are definitely still incredibly significant today, with about a billion people each. That’s 2/7 of the world’s people in 2/196 (?) of the world’s countries.

  • Thomas Lessman

    This is an old & outdated history chart, but it’s still neat. I would love to see one updated with current knowledge. and are two of the greatest world history map websites currently online.

  • Jiri Roznovjak

    It would be cool to make it up to present time, interactive with javascript using some data visualization framework. Anybody up for that?

  • BillMontreal

    Wait, but why no Africa (other than Egypt)?

    • Yes there is

      Carthagenian Empire is in North Africa, now Tunisia…

      • BillMontreal

        My point remains that there is a lot of non-Mediterranean Africa that is not represented at all.

        • LG

          Simple: this is a map of the history of the world as seen by the kind of white people who think Egyptians were white. Black people have no history according to them.
          What a ridiculously biased map. Completely pointless.

          • BillMontreal

            So true. It was made in 1931 so it is way overdue for a major remodel. Cool concept. Just complete it.

          • Robert

            “This time-travelling Lambourghini with onboard AI and transformer capability into a supersonic jet doesn’t have exactly the kind of cup holder I like! It’s completely pointless!”

  • Esther

    What is the unit on the x-axis? “Relative power”?? Nr of people? Squaremeter of land?

    • istvan

      My guess would be ‘subjective significance as seen from today’s North America and Western Europe’.

      • Tueksta

        I guess the significance is judged all based on the written documents that wrote history and survived until modern times.

  • Juan

    The Spanish Empire is totally underrepresented. Plus, it makes no sense to show Latin America as a totally independent power separate from Spain and Portugal. Once again, a misconceived Anglo vision of the World.

  • gatorallin

    …just 20 min…. speed reader showoff…

  • Tueksta

    I miss the celts and the vikings…

    • Hagrid

      The vikings are there, far left at the 600 line.

      • Hagrid

        …and the Gauls plundering Rome at 350 BC is a celtic tribe…

  • kew bee

    The Ming Dynasty of Han Chinese took back the land captured by the the Mongolian (Yuan Dynasty) and the Manchurian (Qing) Dynasty of China had more territory than any other Chinese dynasties. That said, I’m sure folks of every culture can point out such little discrepancies. Still an awesome map. 🙂

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  • nice_trousers

    Black people don’t and have never existed according to this chart

    • Sally

      It’s about global domination only. But you make an interesting point.

      • nice_trousers

        well, no, it’s about historical civilizations

        • Sally

          No it’s not, read the actual title?

          • nice_trousers

            yay, let’s play the reading game! the title is “relative power of contemporary states, nations, and empires.”

            that means “global domination” to you?

            • Sally

              Much more than it does ‘historical civilisations’, yes. There’s been countless different communities, many we will never know about. THIS is about the ones that have had a significant impact which ‘historical civilisations’ doesn’t bear reference to. Simple as

            • nice_trousers

              I don’t know why you are arguing this. the title of the chart is self-explanatory. and I’m not talking about “communities” we may never know about. I’m talking about major civilizations in Africa, North America, and South America, that are well known

            • L

              Dude, the text beneath the title is self-explanatory. Does “made in 1931” tell you anything?

              Go make your own map and spread the word if you feel like it, just don’t complain about something that had very little resources outside of euro-centric data.

            • nice_trousers

              very little resources? by 1931 darwin had already written about evolution and Einstein had already come up with the theory of relativity. there had already been a world war. people were already flying around the plant in airplanes.

              they had resources but they were euro-centric and racist. everyone knows this. the USA had just spent a century enslaving africans and helping to eliminate a whole race of native people, and were still oppressing any and all minorities. the most monstrous death machine ever created was ramping up in germany.

              it’s not surprising at all that in such a world, propoganda like this “history” of civilization was a lie.

  • Miguel Angel

    Over te door of the Arsenal of Cádiz can be seen writen: “TU REGERE
    IMPERIO FLUCTUS HISPANE, MEMENTO”. Remember , Spain, that you ruled the
    Empire of the Seas. None had such a long time , and none wil have in
    such conditions , such a unique power over the world, the land and
    seas,with all its mistakes and faults. None changed the world forever in
    that way. None did that with so scarce and little resources.

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