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"Who has conquered the Middle East ...? See 5,000 years of history in 90 seconds." A way cool flash animation, at least to a map junkie like me. There are a few glitches here and there, but all in all very nice.

John Burgess (mail) (www):
Not bad! A few things at the fringes are surely arguable, and too bad about the skirt-hoiking at the end, but all in all very nicely done.
9.24.2006 5:20pm
wb (mail):
Pretty cool and not a bad guess about the iranian empire
9.24.2006 5:21pm
Eric Anondson (mail):
It is quite impressive. Although they do get the borders at modern Israel's founding wrong. To be completist they might show Israel's founding borders, then growth over the years with each new war. It should show Egypt and Jordan swallowing Gaza and West Bank respectively and then Israel swallowing up to near the Suez Canal... and losing it in pieces as peace treaties were signed.

Also Jordan and Saudi Arabia re-adjusted their border recently from the colonial era. So it can't be said it is the "same" border... although that doesn't get colonialism off from its egregious effects in the region, or that the current border doesn't owe it's current location to a history of colonialism... Just being nitpicky...
9.24.2006 6:06pm
Eric Anondson (mail):
Plus, it misses the Joooooo-hater conspiracist view of the Zionist Empire swallows up the entire world. ;)
9.24.2006 6:07pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Eric Anondson: Which colonialism? European colonialism? Turkish colonialism? Arab colonialism?
9.24.2006 6:18pm
EricRasmusen (mail) (www):
Did I see the Arab Empire of circa 900 AD including the Balkans, or am I remembering wrong? The Turks later are properly colored as having it, but the Arabs did not get that far.

This inspired me to republish an old blog entry on who has possessed Jerusalem over the centuries at
rasmusen.org.
9.24.2006 6:25pm
EricRasmusen (mail) (www):
9.24.2006 6:27pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
I wonder about the dates of independence in the modern era. For example -- Iran first became independent in 1979 with the fall of the Shah?
9.24.2006 6:35pm
Ivan666 (mail):
Nice effort, but full of gross inaccuracies. For example, according to this map, the Caliphate conquered all of the Byzantine empire, as well as some Central European countries that were in fact vassal lands of the Frankish Empire at the time. This is of course absurdly false. It also shows the Caliphate encompassing all of the Iberian peninsula, although it never subjugated the Principality of Asturias (in northwestern Spain). Maps showing the other periods are only somewhat better.

Also, the animation neglects to mention the Mesopotamian empires older than the Neo-Assyrian Empire (which is misleadingly presented as "the" Assyrian Empire, and is also some 200 years older than the timeline tells us). Thus it presents something like 3,000 years of history, rather than 5,000.

Note that I've barely begun to dissect the inaccuracies of this presentation in this post, so be warned not to infer too much from it.
9.24.2006 6:53pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Umm, Eric --- How does it get Israel's borders wrong at its founding? It had no borders at its founding. Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948 but expressly did not declare its borders. A war was fought over the next year, with a series of cease-fires every couple of months or weeks being declared. A relatively "final" cease fire was reached in 1949, where Israel's borders are the ones shown in the presentation and the ones Israel declared as its own and what was recognized by most of the world (Israel to this day has never declared any part of "mandatory Palestin" to be part of it beyond the 1949 borders except for the eastern part of Jerusalem). It is pretty much accepted that these are Israel's borders at its founding. In fact, a significantly smaller portion of then-"mandatory Palestine" was alloted for a Jewish state by the UN partition plan. The mainstream Zionist leadership of Ben Gurion and Weizman accepted the partition (although they knew the Arabs woudl not), but when independence was declared they did not state what their intentions were for borders. The borders shown in the flash video are the de facto, and now internationally-recognized, borders of the State of Israel. Jordan annexed the West Bank (but that annexation was recognized only by two or three countries, and was considered by most to be illegal) and Egypt "administered" the Gaza strip (but, unlike Jordan, did not want it and let it fester so that it could be used for propaganda purposes).
9.24.2006 7:06pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
By the way, great presentation, but I could have gone without the neo-con "Iranian empire" crap and showing it just extend to Israel. Israel would beat the hell out of Iran in a hot war, and if Iran ever got close to "taking over" Israel, Teheran would be a nuclear wasteland; we all know that, but some neo-cons want to push us into another disastrous war and are pretending that Iran is a greater threat than it actually is.
9.24.2006 7:08pm
Ivan666 (mail):
EricRasmusen:
Did I see the Arab Empire of circa 900 AD including the Balkans, or am I remembering wrong? The Turks later are properly colored as having it, but the Arabs did not get that far.

Arabs actually never crossed into the Balkans (Constantinople withstood all their attacks), and not even the Turks got that far. During the time of the greatest Turkish expansion (16th-17th century), only a tiny part of the coast of Dalmatia was Turkish (the rest was the territory of Venice and Ragusa, and the Turkish piece was in fact sold to the Turks by Ragusans to serve as a buffer zone against Venice). Today's Slovenia and Northwestern Croatia were also never conquered by the Turks.

The map of the Turkish Empire, is also very imprecise. The borders between Turks and the Habsburg Empire did change frequently in the 16th and 17th century wars, but the map, for example, doesn't show Bosnia as a part of the Turkish Empire (it was controlled by the Turks continuously from mid-15th to the late 19th century).

Altogether, a nice design, but not a very good job when it comes to historical accuracy.
9.24.2006 8:36pm
JB:
As others said. It's incorrect in numerous instances (aside from what was mentioned above, why does "European Colonialism" extend into Germany, when Germany never owned any part of the Middle East?), and fails to show a number of important states (Mamluks, Safavids, Mongols, Ptolemies, Parthians, Sassanids...)

It's a cool idea, and fun graphics, but extremely lazy on the facts.
9.25.2006 12:49am
Eric Anondson (mail):
Umm, Eric —- How does it get Israel's borders wrong at its founding?

...

The borders shown in the flash video are the de facto, and now internationally-recognized, borders of the State of Israel.


And those de facto "borders" (better with the scare qutoes?) drawn in the animation didn't exist in 1948, which the map shows were established as the timeline passes through 1948. There were different de facto "borders". I know it's nitpicky... To a geographer, de facto "borders" are still borders.


Eric Anondson: Which colonialism?

Roman. ;) More seriously though, in the modern era, all. I'm not discriminating.
9.25.2006 3:52am
ys:
To get a pretty good history overview of the rise and fall of all these empires (and plenty more) on top of the history of expansion and contraction of their languages see this book
9.25.2006 3:29pm