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The following Youtube clip shows a map of the world through time, from 3000 BC to 2013 AD.  Watch empires, kingdoms, and nations rise, fall, split apart, and combine.  It’s pretty interesting, but the areas are not labeled, so it helps to have some background knowledge of what’s going on.

My favorite parts: The rise of the Roman Empire from 100BC to 0, the massive spread of the Mongol Empire in the 1200s AD, and the expansion of Russia to the East in the 1600s.  It is also fascinating to see so many new nations arise, particularly in Africa, in the second half of the 20th century during decolonization.  What other interesting periods in history jump out at you?

Of course, the mere change in political boundaries doesn’t always tell the full story.  In particular, the spread of an empire over a vast blank territory, such as the British and then the Americans over the North American continent, was very different in reality.  All the “blank” territory was in fact inhabited by millions of Native Americans, who found their land gradually gobbled up by what would become the United States.  So it is worth remembering that this video is focusing mainly on the big and powerful political players in history, leaving many smaller tribes and states off the map.  It would be nice to find a video which also shows, for example, the Sioux and the Cherokee and the Inuit, but perhaps the historical record before the arrival of the Europeans was not as robust.

Anyway, happy mapping!