August 12, 2013

"The Entire History of the World — Really, All of It — Distilled Into a Single Gorgeous Chart."

"This 'Histomap,' created by John B. Sparks, was first printed by Rand McNally in 1931."
The 5-foot-long Histomap was sold for $1 and folded into a green cover, which featured endorsements from historians and reviewers. The chart was advertised as “clear, vivid, and shorn of elaboration,” while at the same time capable of “holding you enthralled” by presenting "the actual picture of the march of civilization, from the mud huts of the ancients thru the monarchistic glamour of the middle ages to the living panorama of life in present day America."
Online and zoomable here.

5 comments:

wildswan said...

To me this looks like a map of evolution, a kind of map that was more common back then than now. They had maps showing which animal or plant families made it into the modern world and which became extinct. There is an example at a site on corals: http://coral.aims.gov.au/info/evolution.jsp

In that context this map is making a statement about cultures.

The Godfather said...

I'm sure there's a lot to find fault with in this presentation, but I really love the attempt to encapsulate two millennia of history in a chart. Many of us find visualizations like this to be a good way to understand information about a wide variety of things and how they relate. For example, I lead a religious education group, and our new members will be delving into the Old Testament this year. Relating the Exodus to the (possible) decline of Egypt, and parts of the Old Testament to the Homeric epics, is useful. So is portraying early Christianity as a Roman Empire phenomenon. We may decide to disagree, but it's a way to start a discussion. I wish I could still buy the whole thing for a dollar.

Jon K said...

A "Far Side" cartoon just waiting to be written. I miss Gary Larson.

Jan Blickenstaff said...

I still have my 1960's copy.

FleetUSA said...

Impressive. It reminds me of the Minard map of Napoleon's invasion of Russia:

http://cartographia.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/napoleons-invasion-of-russia/

It includes places, number of soldiers (422,000 down to 10,000!), and temperature.