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I love history and one thing, which was showed to me recently in a university course, helped very much to arrange things in my mind.

I'm talking about a video of the map world year by year - History of the World: Every Year

However, is this movie bona fide? (if it is so they should spread this to history students because is is most efficient).

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    I didn't know that history was seen only as a political map... I thought that history of mankind was more than that. – Santiago Feb 15 at 12:03
  • This was fun, and it was interesting to see, for example, how rapidly WW II went by. But ... They don't show the New World until 1350 AD, but the Olmecs, for example, existed ca. 2700 years earlier. In 1774 AD they have European powers controlling places like Hudson Bay, Louisiana, and remote inland areas of the Amazon basin. Over all, it seems very Eurocentric and questionable as to how they decided what to color in and what to leave white. – Ben Crowell Feb 17 at 23:10
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I would give the video the benefit of doubt, as far as "general overview" is concerned. The creators of these videos do generally not make them up from whole cloth, but refer to available history / map material. However, there are many different accounts and interpretations of historic material, and an animated map can only show one of those.

Data might be wholly or partially incorrect in the source, the selection of one source over the other can be iffy, or the editor of the animation might have made a mistake in the creation. Newer findings might have outdated the ones the animation was based on.

Especially for early history, you should assume that borders shown and years given are approximations, not "correct" in the modern sense. (Personally, when editing such a video I'd probably prefer "airbrushed" coloring instead of the high-contrast borders this editor used, for early-history "borders", to reflect the uncertainties involved.)

Also, and again especially for early history, the map shows kingdoms, empires, and people that we know of. There are people living outside those colored regions, and it irks me a bit to have them "not represented" at all, as if they weren't important or did not create heritages of their own, even if forgotten today.

So... for getting an overview, and putting things into perspective, time and space wise, this video (and others like it, which might be even better) are a good thing. They are a starting point, to give you the right frame of mind and perhaps an idea of what to look for.

But of course they do not, cannot, and are not intended to, replace actual research on an area and time frame that piques your interest.

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    Another cautionary point about such videos and maps is that relationships between different groups can be complicated (sovereignty, suzerainty, and a lot more); a map does not usually show the difference. The Roman Empire as a "country" was a very different reality than, say, modern France, yet the map just shows colors on the land. And in even in the same age and "country", it would have been very different living as a Roman citizen in Rome, as a Gaul in Roman controlled territory, or as a inhabitant of a client state. – SJuan76 Feb 15 at 16:31
  • There is also tiny tension here between "that we know of" (+ rest of para) and the second video you linked to: We know of a lot more people/*cultures* than those 'kingdoms' shown. Not all of those are "forgotten"; those who are just add on top of those 'known but unshown' (to paraphrase the great philosopher Rumsfeld). – LangLangC Feb 17 at 13:43
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No. It is not credible.

It subsumes the societies, culture and political organisations of groups of people beneath apex state agents.

Its judgement as to whether these state agents were ineffective, hegemonic, or totalising is unargued and unsourced.

Its bias is completely and unacceptably towards the state as a historical agent.

Its lack of sourcing means that it cannot be used as a historical work itself as a secondary text: this work does not provide the tools for the understanding of its evidence or the critique of its methods. While a bibliography is supplied at the end, history as a discipline requires annotation of evidence for immediate claim: footnotes are preferred so that the claim being interrogated can rapidly be evaluated.

As a teaching tool its gross and manifest failure to disclose the evidentiary basis and analytical techniques and to argue its theoretical bias make it useless in teaching history, the discipline that critically approaches texts in the past.

Comparing to other texts in the same genre this video is deficient. The basic genre of this video as a text is mspaint border filling, a style or mode of text where arbitrary geographic spaces are filled on a map. The maps are often poor quality, representing nationalist or religious fantasies. The social institution that is nominally “pink” having from complete to no control over the geography painted pink. In contrast to this video, the video games in the paradox interactive series (crusader kings 2 for post western Rome in the space of Iceland to India, ice to Sahara; Europa Universalis 4 in imperialism 1500-1820; and Victoria 2 in imperialism 1820-1935) are more useful as a teaching tool. These texts have granular approaches to social power and state intentionality: a state may have an executive that desires such and such but cannot achieve it because of estates general, or the mode of social or religious organisation, or because of the structure of state funding. They are also superior because of their depiction of “paint filling” as a social process rather than a fait accompli.

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    Mostly agreeing, especially for the early 'years' (one should view that video through a milk-glass in the first 6 minutes?). But the credit roll lists a few sources (Wikipedia, Cetennia Historical Atlas). For a Youtube video: that company usually peddles in much darker dirt. Your last paragraph is completely obscure for me (texts in that genre? mspaint?) – LangLangC Feb 16 at 10:36
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    @LangLangC expanded and incorporated. Cheers – Samuel Russell Feb 17 at 2:42
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    It's just a map. What do you expect? – John Dee Feb 17 at 3:19
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    OP seems to have had expectations greater than the document could sustain. – Samuel Russell Feb 17 at 3:28
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    I think the OP has understood what the video is -- a tool to put various events that can be displayed by coloring areas on a map into relation to each other, chronologically and regionally -- and what it is not: complete, authoritative, and / or detailed. We put colored maps on the walls of history classrooms all the time. I do not really understand what this answer is attacking so vehemently. – DevSolar Feb 17 at 9:43

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