Big Systems

Histomap of World History

Compact timeline of global history

Not a map really, but a 5-foot-high chart showing in one glance 4,000 years of human history on a global scale. Thirty years ago I saw this on the wall of someone’s dorm room and it flipped me out then, and every time I’ve seen it since. Its beauty is how Mr. Sparks divies up world power (somewhat crudely) into its main factions graphed in each increment of fifty years since 2000 B.C.E. Different civilizations are color-coded so one can easily trace the flow and ebb of culture over the centuries.

It has three uses for me: whenever I am reading about some historical event I can instantly see what else was going on in the world at that time (for instance, what was happening in France during the Ming Dynasty). I also get a very intuitive sense of the rises and falls of civilizations, a pattern that no other chart or book has been able to give me. And hanging on the wall, it never fails to elicit gaps of shock when visitors recognize our modern place in the chart. At ten bucks, it’s a bargain education.

— KK

Rand McNally Histomap of World History
John B. Sparks
1952, 66 x 11 inches

As of December 4, 2006 this item is out of stock from the North American Montessori Teacher’s Association. However the author’s granddaughter wrote to me to say that she has copies she is willing to sell at $12 (+$8 shipping). Email Jacquie Glanz: jacquieglanz at


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