The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The entire history of the world, in 1 chart

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The 5-foot-long chart below has an ambitious goal: To record 4,000 years of history in a single graphic.

Drawn by John B. Sparks of Rand McNally and Company in 1931, the chart traces world history from the Egyptian Empire through the Assyrians, Persians, Romans and Huns through the early 20th Century. It’s clearly a Eurocentric and dated view of the world’s history: The colors represent different racial groupings, as they were perceived in the 1930s – “Mediterranean People,” “Alpine People,” and “Mongolian People.”

(Click here for a higher-res version that you can zoom in on.)

The width ostensibly shows the rise and fall of these groupings, though that metric seems far from fair -- China is given just a sliver of the chart at the right-hand side, and India even less. Even so, the chart is an interesting historical artifact, showing how Europeans and Americans conceived the history of the world in the early 20th Century.

Republished courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection,

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