Saturday, 9 April 2011

Interactive Map Shows History of Warfare

by: Keith Wagstaff

conflict map

Just how violent has human history been? Well, according to the new interactive timeline over at (built by Freebase, “an open, Creative Commons licensed repository of structured data of almost 20 million entities”), there pretty much isn’t a time in civilization’s history where several groups of people weren’t trying to kill each other.

Interactive map is here.

Dragging the cursor from the earliest conflicts in history, like the Kurukshetra War in India in 3019 B.C., to the modern day war in Afghanistan can be a fascinating–and depressing–experience. Drag the adjustable cursor across the timeline and little red dots pop up on Google Maps wherever conflicts have taken place, with info on each provided by Wikipedia. It’s interesting to watch the frequency of dots increase the closer you get to the present day, although I suspect that’s more a result of historical record-keeping instead of an increase in the number of wars.
What’s also interesting is the shift in nomenclature; as time moves on and classic  military conquests become socially unacceptable, you start to see a lot more wars defined as operations, conflicts and skirmishes, something made all the more poignant with the White House’s recent “Operation Odyssey Dawn.” Semantics might change but the violence stays the same and, if thousands of years of human history have anything to say about it, things won’t change anytime soon.

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