Human cultural migration of the western world, stretching out over thousands of years, have been mapped in a video lasting just around five minutes.
History is brought to life through the map, which shows where over 150,000 people, including some of the western world's most influential, were born and died. These points are connected, allowing a glimpse into how often people traveled, as well as their final destinations. Historical figures included in the map start in B.C.E. 600 and proceed to the modern era.
Maximilian Schich, at the University of Texas at Dallas developed the map, which used Freebase, a publicly available database of notable people in history. Researchers from Switzerland and Hungary, in addition to the United States, participated in this project.
Leonardo Da Vinci, the Greek lawmaker Solon, and David, king of the Israelites, are among the major celebrities tracked in the new visualization.
Among people who made history, are those who changed the world through their personal migration included on the map. One example is John Washington, ancestor of Revolutionary War leader and first President of the United States, George Washington. Less earth-shaken but still notable is the migration of Jett Travolta, son of actor John Travolta, who was born in Los Angeles in 1992 and died in the Bahamas in 2009.
Freebase, which bills itself as "A community-curated database of well-known people, places, and things" can be edited by anyone, similar to Wikipedia. This means that many ordinary people, who did not play a major role in the cultural development of the human race, are also included in the virtual simulation.
"It's interesting that we get the laws of migration, already, out of this tiny fraction of world population as a whole," Schich told the press.
Notable events throughout history can be plainly seen in the video, including the colonization of the new world, and the American migration to the west, particularly during the California gold rush. Paris, the City of Lights, is shown attracting notables and commoners alike during several points in history. The German region showed many arrivals, but travelers arrived at locations scattered throughout the area. According to the model, Paris became a greater cultural center than Rome in 1789.
The map will be furthered developed in later versions, expanding beyond the western world.
"What we hope, as the next step, is to get data from other language areas - to cover the Hispanic world in a better way, to cover China and India, etc.," Schich told the press.
Nature, a notable weekly scientific journal, published a paper examining the development of the cultural migration model.