Video: Thousands of Years of Human Migration in Five Minutes

By Lisa Raffensperger | July 31, 2014 2:00 pm

It’s enough to put an old-fashioned family tree to shame. A visualization of the migration routes of more than 150,000 people, from 600 BC to the present day, brings to life human history in the Western world in an engrossing and novel way.

The model, produced by Maximilian Schich, at the University of Texas at Dallas, along with collaborators from the U.S., Switzerland and Hungary, represents the birth and death dates and locations of individual people. These data came from community database Freebase, a well-known German encyclopedia of the world’s artists, and Getty’s online artist names database.

The sample included such notable individuals as David, King of Israel, and Leonardo da Vinci, but, since Freebase is editable by anyone, it also included average folk. “You will have people where we know that there was a carpenter in Nuremberg, who lived from 1530 to 1590 say, where people know the birth and death location, and know there was a carpenter with that name, but we don’t know anything else. So that’s not exactly the definition of celebrity,” explains Schich.

Mapping Migrations

The animation flags up those big historical events familiar from history textbooks — from the rise of the Roman Empire, to the colonization of Australia and the Americas, to the U.S. Gold Rush in the mid-1800s. Says Schich, “It’s interesting that we get the laws of migration, already, out of this tiny fraction of world population as a whole.”

On the other end of the spectrum, the data points to previously overlooked tidbits, such as changes in the number of artisans flocking to Paris at different times in the city’s history.

Future plans to expand the dataset to get a fuller picture of human history are being made, Schich says: “What we hope, as the next step, is to get data from other language areas — to cover the Hispanic world in a better way, to cover China and India, etc.” Look forward to an even more populated map of history at the human scale.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
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  • jeczaja

    Of course, you are defining “culture” from a totally Eurocentric perspective.

    • Enopoletus Harding

      Not totally. Though the map is Eurocentric, this is because the data was collected from an English-language website.

    • nunyabidnessfoo

      Um… so make your own Afrocentric model

      • Emkay

        all hominids/homo sapiens etc came from Africa.. all the organisms that allowed that to happen came from the sea… every living thing came from the sea… y’all wise up…

  • Enopoletus Harding

    Also, David’s before 600 BC.

  • Geoff Mather

    Christian missionaries weren’t “persecuted for their faith”. They had the arrogance to enter a country that had its own rich traditions and insist that their Iron Age death cult from the Middle East was better. They judged native people as inferior and basically caused trouble. They deserved everything they got.

    • hazeljdawson

      Evan . if you think Anna `s storry is impossible, last week I got a brand new Mercedes-Benz S-class from having earned $8689 this last four weeks and even more than 10-k last-munth . without a doubt it is the nicest job Ive ever done . I actually started 8-months ago and almost immediately began to bring home more than $83, per/hr . see here now J­a­m­2­0­.­C­O­M­

    • Burn_the_Witch

      Ah, it looks like someone’s still a little bitter that they feel they were lied to in their formative years. It’s really time to let that go, Champ.

      While your version of events certainly occurred, it was also not the norm. Educating yourself by reading other contemporary Japanese accounts might help clear up your obvious misconceptions. This is obvious because not only have you asserted that all missionary operations took the same approach, but you seem to think Japanese culture at the time was free from atrocity and superstition.

      I used to have fun bashing Christians too and thinking every other culture was more enlightened. But then I grew up and learned something.

      • Rietha Crafford

        NOBODY has the right to impose there believes onto anybody…..these missionaries must stay where they are and pray for themselves

        • Burn_the_Witch

          Missionaries do not impose their beliefs upon anyone. Preaching is not imposing. Missionaries lack the power to force anyone to do anything.

          Note your own language – “Missionaries must…” regarding their practice of communicating a belief.

          • Rietha Crafford

            Yes missionaries MUST stay where they are. They ARE IMPOSING their believes onto others and also extort money from those followers. They are just bad news. Let everyone believe the way they want. Either you are one of them or you have no clue what is happening in Africa. They do everything in the name of the “Lord”, meantime it is all for self-gain…………seen to many of them and never have been convinced of their so called “good doings”….all is done in the name of THE LORD, even if they rape the kids, extort money from the congregation, all kinds of dirt and all they then do is “repent” and go back to the same old ways….NOPE, leave them where they are, thank you

          • JDH

            Poor thing…who hurt you?

          • Rietha Crafford

            You must
            also be one of “them”………….holier than though who will do wrong and
            then go and “repent” just to “sooth” your mind………….go rape another
            few kids or “embezzle” some money from someone to make your day……….not interested in your comments, neither in all these holy people who pretend they are good, meantime only for their own pockets

          • JDH

            You must
            also be one of “them”………….holier than though who will do no wrong ?

            U poor thing!

      • Bill

        While I’ve never bashed the Christians for my fun, I do note that, throughout much of the Christian era, the actions of the Christian peoples of the world were VERY Unchristian. Arrogant, pompous, insulting, disrespectful, and VERY violent. Christian teaching says there is ONE GOD and THEIR GOD is wrong. Holding to such a belief is not per se wrong (even though it is unproveable and thus NOT right), but tossing it in other peoples face is wrong, is arrogant, is pompous, and is insulting is disrespectful to other religions. To come into my home an insult my faith is asking for a fist in the face. The Christians did ask for it. They entered other people’s homes with a superior than thou attitude and got punched in the face. They DID ask for it, and they got it.

        • Burn_the_Witch

          “The action of the Christian peoples” is absolute language which still betrays your fundamental misunderstandings of a vast number of people who adhere to a particular religion. This is demonstrably false of course.

          The vast majority of Christians are not violent, nor have they been throughout their history. Secular violence in the 20th century alone simply dwarfs the entirety of any perpetuated in the name of Christianity in two millenia. Then there are the undeniably good and positive acts and services we can both observe and quantify.

          While I agree that tossing one’s belief system in another’s face is what you say it is and it certainly happens, but that fails to account for the considerable number of times in which Christianity isn’t spread this way. Your one-sized-fits-all view of the billions of Christians who have inhabited this world is simply not based upon reality or history.

    • nunyabidnessfoo

      They deserved to be tortured and crucified??? Im with the other guy. You really need to let go of the hate and grow up. You look like youre at least 55 yet you act like a child

      • Rietha Crafford

        No the missionaries only face what they were looking for. WHO the hell give you any right to impose your believes onto anybody else. Only the Christian faith and Jehovah witnesses…..they must STOP THAT and instead pray for their own souls that is 99.999999% corrupt and only doing it because of monetary gain

        • Emkay

          you morons need to read the article again… it’s about ‘human migration, not religious persecution blah blah…

          • Rietha Crafford

            I commented on what Geoff Mather posted, I did not say it was about religion…….I agree what he said whether it is on the topic or not…..blah blah your self

      • Bill

        Nunyabidnessfoo, the Bible says and eye for an eye. The Christians were torturing and crucifying people for centuries before the first Christian Missionaries arrived in Japan. What goes around, comes around. With all the human slaughter the Christians have launched against the world, they cannot complain that some of it was sent back their way. It was deserved.

        • nunyabidnessfoo

          so edgy bro

    • JDH

      Silly man….the arrogance is not that of a Christian,but rather that of men(or a man) that think they can define and classify the shortcomings of man in general!

  • Tommi Morgan

    I don’t think there is any issue with this being about prominent people who are from the US for the last 50 years but the human migration title is a touch misleading. There’s no migration going on in India right now? Phew! Don’t panic every aid agency in the world…it’s not even happening!! :S

  • Dave Downunder

    Someone got their centuries mixed up, 1801 to 1900 is not the 18th century. Otherwise an interesting article.

  • mankar sameer

    its a great experience to share

  • Joyce Carlson

    It appears that North American continent was empty except for migrating Europeans. No American Indians here.

    • Joyce Carlson

      Hmm, I see. They are charting “culture” as in European White culture, but they label it human culture and human history. Hmm. Coming from the University of Texas. Racists?

  • dogbonez

    The christian faith and greed have devastate all cultures they have touched. Islam is no different today.
    Our political actions in the USA today are still being controlled by these actions.

  • EBurkeDisciple

    Alas, comments would be so much more interesting and worthwhile if people would read and know what they are watching and commenting about. And instead of just dumping your angst or hate why not engage a discussion with the expression of a civil opinion. You might learn something if you are interested in learning. If not it might be prudent to refrain from posting and wasting our time.

  • Don Huntington

    That was absolutely wonderful! Kudos to the people who put this together.

  • Taher K. Attarwala

    This planet happens to be a processing house for all in vivid FORMS of organic and inorganic shapes like dwellers below the surface, over the land , and in the sky and space.
    Only the top most among all is THE HUMAN BEINGS, who can think, express, and create; according to the learning process.
    We know about migratory birds, and animals; so is the case with HUMAN -BEINGS. It’s a sign of GLOBAL AWARENESS, and further UP-LIFTMENT STAGE to liberation from this CAPTIVITY in THE FORM.

    • Emkay

      don’t YOU hate SOMEONE who uses CAPITALS for no APPARENT reason to EMPHASIZE, I guess, SOMETHING they are NOT sure about??
      you go Tator….

      • Taher K. Attarwala

        Friend it’s “share with clarity ” It’s also because senior citizens visibility problem with eye sight.

  • Carlos Branderiz

    Bla bla bla…. The real situación now is: who distroye the economy in every country on this planet?….the next country is…… what corporation looking the poor and the worked class? Only numbers? this is the human Rights? Please Jesus came in know !!!!!

  • B. Reyes-Garcia

    No doubt trains and affordable cars were great instruments of migration to the west coast, but air-conditioning was a factor, too. Without air-conditioning those people would have just travelled back to the east pronto because of the humidity, hyuk-hyuk-hyuk.

  • pwb

    I have never contributed to a blog before, but decided to add my opinion today. Humans are humans and always will be. The human race would be much better off if we would start with a smile instead of a frown, or reach out with a helping hand instead of a fist. If we would share opinions without the name-calling and the vitriol, this world would be a much better place. The way people treat others and say what they want while hiding behind anonymity is appalling.

  • socrates35

    Extremely Euro-centric and limited in scope. Where are the vast movements of people across the African and Asian continents and the seafaring peoples of the vast Pacific Oceania region? They shouldn’t have used the term ‘HUMAN’ if they didn’t intend to include a representative selection of ALL human migratory activity. Nothing at all wrong with studying a small subset of nations in detail. Just try and he honest and accurate and label it as such. Disappointed at such lazy editing from the publishers of the study.


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