The Histomap

John B. Sparks' 1931 Histomap charted 4,000 years of human civilization with beautiful, reductive clarity. Here's John Brownlee, at Fast Company:

From a modern perspective, Sparks’ Histomap will raise a few eyebrows. For one, it subscribes to an outdated (but, at the time, quite in vogue) idea about how different cultures throughout history could be grouped into various "peoples." The chart also underestimates or omits certain cultures that historians at the time didn’t truly appreciate the importance of. The chart is also more Eurocentric than it would be if it were created today, with little space devoted to African civilizations or even American civilizations before Europeans settled the New World in the 15th century.

It seems hard to find in print form at a reasonable price (Amazon has it for $150). I've embedded an enormous 2MB image below.

Notable Replies

  1. This would be cool on a coffee table if I had one long enough.

  2. Talk about chutzpah. First you note that the print version is worth $150 and then you blithely pirate it. Whooo hoo! FU, copyrighters.

  3. The post-modern version would be pink noise top to bottom.

  4. The original work is from 1931, meaning that it might not still be protected by copyright (depends on if it was renewed under the laws in place back then). Then there's the fair use arguments.

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