Telling literal stories and conveying information through visual representations has been going on for millennia. Cave paintings in places like Spain and France that date back tens of thousands of years were some of the first examples. At that point, using drawings to convey a story was not a luxury, but instead a necessity in societies that had not yet developed written language. To other civilizations like the ancient Egyptians, these visual pictographs became the written language, and coated the walls of their tombs and temples.
After stumbling across this map on Pinterest, the history major in me couldn’t help but be thoroughly impressed with the multidimensional set of data it captured. “The Histomap,” — created by cartographer John Sparks in 1931 — captures the history of major nations and empires over time, relative to the global power they contained.