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History just keeps happening – there’s nothing you can do about that. But learning as much as possible is deeply rewarding, and helps you better understand the world.

This week Cool Websites and Apps digs into five sites that give you a better idea of history. Explore maps from other ages, see where people are moving to and from, then work out one way of discovering who the most famous people in history are. Let’s get stared.

Geacron: See the World Map for Any Year

The nations of today didn’t always exist: almost all of them didn’t take their current shape until relatively recently. Geocron is the perfect site to explore this with.

Recent examples, like South Sudan, are obvious to imagine, but some other bits of history are downright unintuitive until you explore them. For example: did you know that the modern nation of Mexico was established before Italy as we know it? Here’s a map from 1860:

geacron-1860

What other weird facts like this can you find? Let’s talk in the comments below.

It’s fascinating to see how the world took shape over the years, with countries as we know them today slowly taking shape. Here’s 1500:

geacron-1500

The world was opening up, and Europe was taking shape. And of course, the world looked different during the Roman Empire:

geacron-roman

Orbis: Google Maps for Ancient Rome

While we’re on the subject: imagine if you could use Google Maps way back in ancient history. No, I don’t mean using Google Maps on an old Nokia phone How To Use Google Maps On Your Basic Mobile Phone How To Use Google Maps On Your Basic Mobile Phone Read More , though that is impressive – I’m talking about using Google Maps before the fall of the Roman Empire. How long would it take to get from ancient Rome to the far-flung city of Londinium?

orbis-londinium

Yep: it would take 23.2 days to get from Rome to London. Think about that next time you’re complaining about air travel.

You can configure this app to look at a variety of different travel options, so play around with it and see what works. Remember kids: time travel sounds fun, but the logistics when you get there are going to be difficult.

Thanks to Rob Hindle, who suggested this one in the comments of our recent mesmerizing maps 5 Mesmerizing Maps That Will Blow Your Mind 5 Mesmerizing Maps That Will Blow Your Mind See the world in different ways. These are some of the the most fascinating maps you will ever find online. Read More roundup.

Global Flow Of People

A Roman citizen could travel from modern-day England to the Middle East without ever leaving the empire, so people moved around quite a bit. But that’s nothing compared to the modern world, where people are moving between continents at astonishing rates. This site lets you visualize that movement.

global-migration

Click around to see how many people moved between continents and nations in the last 25 years. As one of the 100,000 people who left Canada between 2005 and 2010, it’s fascinating to check out the other migrations that took place during that time period. It’s a great reminder that history is an ongoing process, and we’re all part of it.

Pantheon: List of The Most Famous People in History

Wikipedia’s seemingly endless usefulness never ceases to amaze, and the MIT Media Lab project Pantheon is a great example of this. To really oversimplify, this project uses Wikipedia links to determine who the most influential people in history are (read the full methodology here, it’s fascinating).

pantheon-science-tech

You can discover who the most famous people from modern-day nations are, or browse the most influential people in a number of categories – politicians, composers, scientists, or pretty much anything. I cannot overstate how much time I’ve lost to this site, but it’s all worthwhile. Bookmark this one.

Turning Points In Earth’s History: BBC

We end this article with a small site over at the BBC that takes the long view on history – and when I say long, I mean billions of years.

earth-history

Take a quick tour of our collective history, from the formation of the planet Earth until the emergence of the human race. It’s a great long view of things, check it out.

What History Resources Do You Love?

I can’t get enough history, and I hope you’re enjoying these roundups as much as I am. If you want a few more fascinating looks at the past, Crash Course World History is totally worth checking out Crash Course: Entertaining YouTube Courses On History & Biology Crash Course: Entertaining YouTube Courses On History & Biology Stop watching the same old crap on YouTube. Check out this great set of history and biology lessons instead. They're hilarious, engaging, entertaining and enlightening, all at once. I promise you, they're not boring and... Read More , and there are more YouTube Channels with moments that changed the world Catch Moments That Shaped The World With These 10 YouTube History Channels Catch Moments That Shaped The World With These 10 YouTube History Channels There are so many YouTube channels devoted to history that I can wear the skin of my fingers writing about them for you. Instead, I will restrict myself to these ten. With these ten YouTube... Read More if you know where to look. There are even history Tumblr blogs worth following 6 Fascinating Tumblr Blogs For History Buffs 6 Fascinating Tumblr Blogs For History Buffs Are you big fans of Tumblr? Here at MakeUseOf, we certainly are. The blogging platform brings together the idea of blogging together with social networking and has become home to some of the most creative,... Read More .

Talk about your favorite history videos, web sites and anything else in the comments below – we’ll keep rounding things up together.

  1. efwefwefewf
    August 22, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    eurocentrist maps that show how biased knowledge are; they ignore pretty much southamerica, africa, and china

  2. moondazed
    September 21, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    My family loves Extra Credits History - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhyKYa0YJ_5Aq7g4bil7bnGi0A8gTsawu

    My husband taught a basic game design class for teens and used their other content, which is funny and engaging as well.

    • Justin Pot
      September 21, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      I really like those videos! There's also The Great War channel on YouTube, which is going through the war in realtime, 100 years after the events. There's something very immersive about finding out about the war in real time, instead of reading summaries.

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