Fun with Maps

Published:March 29, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

The above are samples of maps as time lines posted recently by the David Rumsey Map Collection. The text below comes directly from the post.

TOP (detail): Sebastian Adams’ 1881 Synchronological Chart of Universal History is 23 feet long and shows 5,885 years of history, from 4004 B.C. to 1881 A.D. It is the longest timeline we have seen. The recently published Cartographies of Time calls it “nineteenth-century America’s surpassing achievement in complexity and synthetic power.” In the key to the map, Adams states that timeline maps enable learning and comprehension “through the eye to the mind.”

CENTER (16th in a series of 21): Edward Quin published “An Historical Atlas; In a Series of Maps of the World as Known at Different Periods” in 1830. Rather than a strict timeline, Quin creates an entirely unique kind of time map series by using 21 maps that show progressively receding cloud borders to indicate the expansion of geographical knowledge over time … And the sixteenth is A.D. 1498. The Discovery of America.

BOTTOM: Rand McNally published amateur historian John B. Spark’s “The Histomap. Four Thousand Years Of World History” in 1931. This popular chart went through many editions. On the cover, Sparks states: “Clear, vivid and shorn of elaboration, Histomap holds you enthralled as you follow the curves of power down time’s endless course. Here is 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.”