Timelapse Animation Lets You See the Rise of Cities Across the Globe, from 3700 BC to 2000 AD

Last year, a Yale-led research project produced an innovative dataset that mapped the history of urban settlements. Covering a 6,000 year period, the project traced the location and size of cities across the world, starting in 3700 BC (when the first known urban dwellings emerged in Sumer) and continuing through 2000 AD. According to Yale's Meredith Reba, if we understand “how cities have grown and changed over time, throughout history, it might tell us something useful about how they are changing today,” and particularly whether we can find ways to make modern cities sustainable.

The Yale dataset was originally published in Scientific Data in 2016. And before too long, some enterprising YouTuber brought the data to life. Above, the history of urban life unfolds before your eyes. The action starts off slow, but then later kicks into high gear.

You can read more about the mapping of urban settlements at this Yale website. And see the animated map in a larger format here.

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