Citilab recently wrote about new research led by Yale University that mapped urban settlements from 3700 B.C. to 2000 A.D. Using the digitized and geocoded dataset, Max Galka at Metrocosm created an incredibly interesting video where you can literally see urban centers “pop” into existence on the map over time. The visualization was inspired by the world population history map by Population Connection, and makes the rise and spread of cities on the globe abundantly clear.
In the video, the timeline spans 6,000 years while cities pop up on the world map at the points when their populations were first documented in historical and archaeological records (but not necessarily the same year in which the cities were “conceived.”) At the bottom of the map, helpful contextual notes provide additional insight about that particular point in history.
Galka told CityLab why he created the data visualization and what he found interesting about it:
Most datasets available go back only a few years or decades at most. This is the first one I’ve seen that covers 6 millennia. I’m a big fan of history, so after reading the study, I thought it would be interesting to visualize the data and see if it offers some perspective… . What I found most surprising was how early some of the MesoAmerican cities formed, several hundred years before the first cities in Europe.