I heart maps!

Being the gigantic history nerd that I am, I love maps.  This site has some really neat ones that are animated.  My favorite is the one that shows the imperial history of the Middle East from the earliest kingdoms to modern times.  It quite dramatically shows the myriad states and empires that were in control throughout the years.  The best bit is of course, the Mongols, shown by a vast swath of maroon color spreading out from the Central Asian steppes to the eastern boundaries of Europe.  How can you not be impressed?

There is another map on the same site that shows the history of major world religions.  I like this map a lot too, although given that the site itself is titled “Maps of War“, there is the tendency to see the spread of these religions as a competition (look how much Buddhism spread!  Wow, look at Christianity go!), which is not the impression that I wish my students to gain from viewing these maps.  However, the religion map is particularly useful for showing the spread of the universal religions (Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam).  It’s a great visual representation of a concept that is hard to grasp without the map.

By the way, in case you thought I forgot, these maps show the themes of state building and expansion (the imperial history of the Middle East) and cultural interaction (world religions) respectively.

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16 comments on “I heart maps!

  1. Brad Chester says:

    The most interesting part of the map that I noticed was looking at the overlap at the ending summary. Areas that they highlighted, like Baghdad and Jerusalem, and especially Turkey (formerly Anatolia) changed hands between some of the most important and influential empires in history. I’ve never personally been to those areas, but I would love to go there and experience the vast cultures that have existed in those specific places.

  2. Tyler Lam says:

    What surprised me most about the map was how often religions dominated other religions. I was aware that there were battles, such as the crusades and the Battle of Tours, for religion, but I had no idea how drastic the results and consequences were. I think the reason that Islam and Christianity spread so much was that the two other religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, never really fought to spread their religion, where as Muslims and Christians fought very hard to convert people.

  3. Osama Saleem says:

    One of the reasons I think the Middle East was (and still is) an area of conflict is because of it’s position. From here, one could easily walk or sail to parts Asia, Africa and Europe because the Middle East is the dead center of those three areas. Another possible reason the Middle East has switched control so much through the centuries might be because the Middle East is the birthplace of many prophets and so control of the Middle East might also has some religious motivation behind it.

  4. Tyler Briese says:

    What fascinated me most about the world religions map was how buddism actually spread. I know it is a wide spread religion i did not know it spread that far. I was also stunned by how towards the end hinduism almost completely faded off of the map and only stayed mostly in India. And i read osamas post and i 100 percent agree with what he wrote. There have been a bunch of battles and religion shifts throughout the existence of the middle east, thus making the middle east consist of multiple different religions rather than just one.

  5. Kanuj Bains says:

    The map that I found very interesting, was the one titled March Of Democracy. This map showed how at first, Democracy hadn’t really come into the picture around 500 B.C. However, as the map shows, over time, one can see that Democracy has rapidly spread throughout the world. My favorite part was seeing Communist Russia being completely erased and most of the world following Democracy.

  6. Ziab Kabir says:

    I found the History of Religion map to be fascinating. To be able to see 5000 in 90 seconds was pretty interesting. I didn’t realize how dominant Islam and Buddhism were (compared to Christianity) early on, around the 12th century or so. The map’s representation of Judaism, by just leaving it off the map for a couple thousand years or so, was different. It’s not like they didn’t exist.

  7. Gagan Gupta says:

    The map that most interested me was Leadership-And-War. As the map stated ” War is a necessary evil. Politics, however, shouldn’t be” seems to grasp what going to war is like for a president. I think that sometimes it is the leadership fault because of the war he decides to engage in. The president must put into account if the public is willing to fight for. Granted, the most casualties occurred under Franklin Roosevelt but I do not believe it was entirely his fault. He was provoked through Pearl Harbor and not taking action would have been worse. For that reason, Roosevelt might have been responsible for one of the most casualties in USA history but it w as a “necessary evil” in order to restore peace to the world.

  8. Vincent DeLaurentis says:

    Wow! That was a really interesting site. My two favorite maps were the “March of Democracy” and “History of Religion”. I enjoyed the former of the two afore mentioned maps because it showed some of the more esoteric democracies of the past and present, as well as not shying away from other political ideologies. The sight was brave enough to display the advent of feudalism, monarchies, and Marxism without “putting them down”. I also enjoyed the quote from Winston Churchill from the top of the page which admitted that democracy is not perfect, but that it works the best (syaing this today is an egregious in most political discourse). I liked the latter of the two namely because it did show religious conquest. A fact that many people do not want to hear is that world religions, though it does promote morality, often behaves in a less than pious matter. I also think in some ways religion, in antuiquity more than today, is a competition. A competition for “the souls of the faithful”. I am not trying to say that I have nay qualms with religion, merely that in today’s world religions do compete to recruit followers. That is why people go door-to-door, or hand out pamphlets, or in very extreme circumstances wage a jihad or a crusade. In this instance I almost think competition is too light of a word to describe what religion is trying to do. The word competition almost makes it seem like a game, when ,matters such as these are incredibly serious to practitioners of the religions. I also liked the map on which Presidents started which Wars. I found that one incredibly interesting because it showed every single relevent conflict and also dispelled the notion or political prejudice you could call it that the Republican Party would choose war over social well-fare (though that seems to be the case in modern politics). The one problem I had with the map was that it showed the Presidents, when only Congress has the power to declare war. This could lead to false impressions over the war if a party other than that of the President had a majority. The maps on the sight were incredibly thought provoking.

  9. Brian Harold says:

    The map that most impressed and interested me was the map of the Imperial History of the Middle East. It is absolutely astounding at how many countries have controlled the Middle East over 5000 years. Many people have wanted to control it for it’s religious value. It contains 3 major sites of 3 major religions; Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Also it is in a key position which allows you to access waterways that lead into both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans which with the right naval fleet would allow you to control the going ons of other enemy empires and such around you. The access to both major oceans is also a key place for traders because they are able to access both sides of the world which would allow them to sell their goods to many more buyers and buy and trade even more exotic goods. It is not very hard to understand why empires over the span of history have wanted to control such a valuable location like the Middle East.

  10. Ashley Druggan says:

    I liked how easy it was to learn from the Imperial History of the Middle East map. The animation overlaid on the continent along with the timeline on the bottom made it easy to understand and follow the conquest of the land through the ages. I also thought the maps showed how geography is important to where people lived. For instance, the area around the Nile and along the sea boards is always inhabited and fought over because its very livable land. I noticed that the areas where there was desert or rocky terrain were not conquered as much as the fertile and sea board areas. I also liked how at the end, the animation quickly went through all the maps again. This reminded me of what I had just learned, which helps students like me retain the information better.

  11. Clark Billups says:

    If only the mongols had a better government we might of been under there control for a lot longer.

  12. Victoria Howell says:

    Maps are so useful, but incredibly deceiving. The smallest country on a map might in real life be hundreds of miles long! I have always thought it was interesting to look at maps from the middle ages and see how much of the world they had not discovered, or how much of a country they overcompensated for. Nowadays we have technology to take pictures of the Earth from space, but back then these maps were the best of the best. The map that shows every empire that has every conquered the middle east was eye-opening. There is so much history in that area and nearly everyone had a hand in it! The middle east became a center of religious conflict during the time of the crusades, but now we have economic conflicts there because there is so much oil in that area, and oil is so expensive. Either way, the middle east in my opinion, will always be important.

  13. Taylor Slugg says:

    I loved the animated map site! I’m a very visual learner, and my favorite map to see watch the “March of Democracy”. This map showed how democracy spread throughout the world during a long period of time. I learned a lot just from that ninety seconds of watching. I never knew that World War I started when half the world was Nationalism and the other half Democracy! Then as a result of the war Europe split into Fascism and Communism. I’m familiar with these forms of government, but I’d absolutely love to learn more about them and how they increased and decreased due to wars!

  14. Connor DiGiovanna says:

    I really enjoyed watching the March of Democracy map, it really shows how democracy started off only in a few portions of the world, and eventually grew to the most common form of government as it is today. Another thing it shows is how communism was once much more common, and how its now only a handful of countries. One thing I learned was how America was the first country completely founded upon Democracy. The spread of Democracy is something I’m looking forward to learning more about in class.

  15. […] I heart maps! August 2010 15 comments […]

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