The History of the World in One Video: Every Year from 200,000 BCE to Today

“Where are you from?” a char­ac­ter at one point asks Babe, the hap­less pro­tag­o­nist of the Fire­sign The­atre’s clas­sic com­e­dy album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Any­where at All. “Nairo­bi, ma’am,” Babe replies. “Isn’t every­body?” Like most of that psy­che­del­ic radio troupe’s pieces of appar­ent non­sense, that mem­o­rable line con­tains a truth: trace human his­to­ry back far enough and you inevitably end up in east Africa, a point illus­trat­ed in reverse by the video above, “A His­to­ry of the World: Every Year,” which traces the march of human­i­ty between 200,000 BCE and the mod­ern day.

To a dra­mat­ic sound­track which opens and clos­es with the music of Hans Zim­mer, video cre­ator Ollie Bye charts mankind’s progress out of Africa and, ulti­mate­ly, into every cor­ner of all the con­ti­nents of the world.

Real, doc­u­ment­ed set­tle­ments, cities, empires, and entire civ­i­liza­tions rise and fall as they would in a com­put­er game, with a con­stant­ly updat­ed glob­al pop­u­la­tion count and list of the civ­i­liza­tions active in the cur­rent year as well as occa­sion­al notes about pol­i­tics and diplo­ma­cy, soci­ety and cul­ture, and inven­tions and dis­cov­er­ies.

All that hap­pens in under 20 min­utes, a pret­ty swift clip, though not until the very end does the world take the polit­i­cal shape we know today, includ­ing even the late late­com­er to civ­i­liza­tion that is the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca. Bye’s many oth­er videos tend to focus on the his­to­ry of oth­er parts of the world, such as India, the British Isles, and that cra­dle of our species, the African con­ti­nent, all of which we can now devel­op first-hand famil­iar­i­ty with in this age of unprece­dent­ed human mobil­i­ty. Though the con­di­tion itself takes the ques­tion “Where are you from?” to a degree of com­pli­ca­tion unknown not only mil­len­nia but also cen­turies and even decades ago, at least now you have a snap­py answer at the ready.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The His­to­ry of Civ­i­liza­tion Mapped in 13 Min­utes: 5000 BC to 2014 AD

Take Big His­to­ry: A Free Short Course on 13.8 Bil­lion Years of His­to­ry, Fund­ed by Bill Gates

The His­to­ry of the World in 46 Lec­tures From Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty

The His­to­ry of the World in 20 Odd Min­utes

A Crash Course in World His­to­ry

5‑Minute Ani­ma­tion Maps 2,600 Years of West­ern Cul­tur­al His­to­ry

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (10)
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  • FakeHistory says:

    Who­ev­er made this erased the Ottoman and Per­sian empire. Hor­ri­ble event log­ging also you are bet­ter off watch­ing the his­to­ry chan­nel or read­ing Nation­al Geo­graph­ic at least they are doing their home­work and val­i­dat­ing facts.

  • Sam J says:

    If you believe it’s that bad then YOU should cre­ate some­thing bet­ter.
    And “I” nev­er believe any­thing that is anony­mous­ly writ­ten because if you can not be man enough to say who you are and state your cre­den­tials then you are evi­dent­ly just a nay-say­er blab­bing away with your neg­a­tiv­i­ty. Impressed with your own impor­tance.

  • Patrick Stack says:

    Some inac­cu­ra­cies I’ve noticed are the com­plete absence of any­thing in Ire­land until the Chris­t­ian era despite the Boyne Val­ley mon­u­ments (New­grange, Knowth and Dowth) pre­dat­ing the pyra­mids of Egypt!
    Also, Ire­land gained inde­pen­dence from Britain in 1922, and left the Com­mon­wealth in 1949, but is still coloured pink as if it were a colony of Britain, which it is not.

  • Steve P says:

    This is a won­der­ful ani­ma­tion and I’ve learned a lot.
    It may not be 100% com­plete nor accu­rate, but I can see a lot of work went in to it. I will be send­ing a link to my son’s teacher.

  • Jorge says:

    It must be tough to make such an impres­sive resource and then have to read obtuse crit­i­cisms like this

  • Stacy Easter says:

    You for­got qui­et a few events that took out the num­ber of peo­ple on earth.….like the flood.

  • Colin Fulton says:

    As oth­ers have com­ment­ed there are some glar­ing errors in this ani­ma­tion. The dias­po­ra out of Africa hap­pened in two waves not one as sug­gest­ed also, this has humans not arriv­ing in Aus­tralia until 39,000 BCE when it is def­i­nite­ly proven that humans arrived in Aus­tralia 60,000 BCE and may have even been as much as 70,000 BCE or ear­li­er.
    Even with the errors it is still an inter­est­ing exer­cise and must have tak­en a long time to do.

  • Dick Thomas says:

    Very impres­sive! An excel­lent overview of how human civ­i­liza­tion has con­sumed the earth. Peo­ple may find small incon­sis­ten­cies as they watch for their par­tic­u­lar area of inter­est, but over­all an excel­lent job.

  • Nilats Hpesoj says:

    There was no flood ffs. The con­ti­nents nev­er sunk, not even Atlantis, which is actu­al­ly a dead west african civ­i­liza­tion destroyed by the drought in what is now the sahara desert. The only flood in human his­to­ry is when we real­ize all the ice caps have melt­ed due to human­i­ties clear blind­ness and their cap­i­tal­is­tic indus­tries .

  • Zuhayr says:

    Game negara

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