A large percentage of us are visual learners, meaning we retain what we’ve seen better than what we’ve heard. I am definitely one of those visual learners, so when I study history, I rely heavily on maps, diagrams, and photographs. There are no maps in my book because if I started adding them, I wouldn’t have known when to stop—the book covers almost the entire world over many different eras.
These video maps are a wonderful way to follow the progression of my book: In Search of Christian Origin: A Timeline of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
As a personal reaction, when I watch these maps in motion, I can’t help thinking that each ebb and flow of people groups represented the history of migrations and warfare. Discontent with the status quo and conflict seemed to define human history as much as anything. One group always seemed to want what another group had. The dirty work of expanding territories was always delegated to average people who were forced into the service of power-hungry and glory-hungry rulers.
The Ancient Middle East: Every Year
This video shows that the ancient civilization of Israel was a mere late-comer and not that significant when compared to much more ancient and sophisticated Middle Eastern empires such at the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians.
The Mediaeval Middle East: Every Year
This video begins in 525 BC, then skips rapidly to AD 670 before starting its year-by- year progress. It points out the dynamics of the Byzantine Empire and its interactions with the various Muslim empires in the Middle East.
The Spread of Christianity
These two videos are extremely valuable in visualizing the ebb and flow of Christianity. As an aside, I don’t know how well it fits with the triumphal soundtrack.
Part 1 (30-1000)
Part 2 (1000-2016)
The Holy Roman Empire: Every State, Every Year
Even after I published the book, I never really understood the extent of the Holy Roman Empire until I saw this video. It was so widespread and complex!
The Thirty Years’ War: Every Fortnight
This was another massive event that most Americans know almost nothing about. Most of the color changes are due to a progression of alliances but keep an eye on Germany and the near-constant changes in the front lines. The large armies roaming that region for thirty years left almost complete devastation.
The History of the Balkans: Every Year
The Balkans are a very interesting and dynamic region because that was the border between the Eastern and the Western Roman empires, the Latin and the Greek Churches, and later, between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire.
The Reconquista: Every Year
This shows the rapid Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula and on into France, then the seven-hundred-year slog to drive them back off the peninsula.
Why did the Crusades Fail?
This is an excellent visual representation of the Holy Land crusades. Something on the periphery of the action grows interesting, and that is the sudden appearance of the Mongols in Anatolia. That encroachment wasn’t mentioned in the narrative, but it became a factor during and after the last of the crusades.
Christianity in Europe (30-2019)
This map shows not only the Christianization of Europe, but the splintering of Christianity over the centuries.
Animated map shows how religion spread around the world
A dizzying trip around the world to demonstrate the spread of the five primary religions.
The Spread of Christianity
The thing I love about this map is that it shows the extent of Asia that was influenced by the Church of the East, also known as the Nestorians. When Jesuit missionaries began to arrive in China in the sixteenth century and then Protestant missionaries came two centuries later, they discovered Christian-tinged beliefs already in place and were surprised. These later missionaries may not have been aware that the Nestorians introduced those beliefs a thousand years earlier.
Western Colonialism and Decolonization
I like this map because it shows not only what regions were colonized, but also, by which countries. Keep in mind that in almost every colonization by a European country, missionaries also introduced Christianity to those regions.
Family Tree of Christian Denominations
This is a great chart showing the seemingly endless splits of Christianity into new denominations, each probably believing theirs is the only true version.