Using the Timemap of World History


Using the TimeMap of World History

For Teachers and Students

Quick Reference

Short Activity

Appendix: The Structure of the TimeMap



The TimeMap of World History is made up of an Atlas and an Encyclopedia. The Atlas is for ranging quickly over wide periods of time and regions of the world. The Encyclopedia is for digging deeper into topics.

The TimeMap is not primarily for academics, though many do use it in their teaching. It is for learners of all ages, with a reasonable level of intelligence and a healthy dose of curiosity, to use and enjoy. It is designed to give such as these access to all the world’s history.

The website currently has two and half million users (and rising) a year. Like you, they are using this resource to expand their knowledge of history and their understanding of the world.

Please enjoy this website, and do, please, send me your comments and suggestions to help us improve it.

Peter Britton
CEO TimeMaps

[email protected]


Using the TimeMap of World History


Do you want to simply browse the TimeMap of World History, gathering knowledge as you go on a fairly random basis? Or do you want to research a particular topic – a civilization perhaps, or region, or period in history?

In either case, the following search functions are available to you:


This function can be accessed from a box towards the top of each page.

It is particularly useful if you know little more about the civilization, empire or episode you are interested in than its name.

The search function performs in a similar way to a Google search. Even if your spelling isn’t spot on it should get you results.

When you enter a query, a list of found items. This list will contain both maps and articles – entires with dates are maps. Just as with a Google search, don’t just go straight to the top entry.  Look over the list for what seems the best and most relevant item for your requirements.

Atlas Home Page

The atlas is ideal as a quick source of information and as a “jumping off” point for more in-depth research.

The Atlas homepage can be accessed from the menu near the top of each page.

It contains two “find” lists: an A-Z list of countries and regions, and a chronological list which lists maps according to Key Dates (see below, Appendix). Use these to select the map you want.

Use these lists if you have a specific country or region in mind; or you know where in the world the civilization or empire was located; and/or you know the period in time that the episode occurred.

Atlas Map Pages

More navigation functions can be found on the map pages themselves.

Each map page has a title – the region or country it covers, plus the date. In free maps this will always be one of the Key Dates (see below, Appendix).

Forward and Back arrows

These are located to the left and right of the screens. The back arrow takes you back in history, and forward arrow takes you forward.

Every map in the free area of the TimeMaps website fits into a uniform framework of dates. So, for example, the world map dated 1648 is preceded by the world map dated 1453, and followed by the world map dated 1789. Exactly the same dates apply to maps of Europe – so Europe 1648 is proceeded by Europe 1453 and followed by Europe 1789. And so on for all the maps.

This framework of twenty key dates provides twenty snapshots in history. This allows users to explore all the regions of the whole world at these dates.

The premium maps work in a slightly different way. They do not conform to an over-arching scheme of dates but instead track major changes in the regions of the world they cover.

Arrows to neighbouring maps

Around most maps below the World level there are some small arrows. These allow you to move to a neighbouring map (again, at the same Key Date). By this means you can move around the world at a specific moment in history, gaining a snapshot of what was happening in the world at that time.


Above the map itself, on the left, is a “breadcrumb” trail. This is a navigation device which you can use to go up to maps at higher levels, at the same date. So, you can go to the World level or, where appropriate, to the relevant Big Region level. From those maps you will be able to explore other countries in the region, or other regions in the world, all at the same Key Date. This allows you to explore the world at a particular point in time.

Hide/Show Marker button

Above the map, on the right, there may be a “hide marker” button. This appears if there are information markers on the map (see below). Click this button if you don’t want to see the markers (which can obscure bits of the map). Once you have clicked the button you’ll see it become “show markers”, and you can click this to get the markers back.

Information markers

Many maps contain information markers – follow these to go down a level to a more close-up map of a region or country. These are at the same key dates.

Active Timeline

Across the bottom of the page is the active timeline. This allows you to go forward or backwards in time.

You can either use the arrows at either end, which take you to the next/previous map in the sequence of Key Dates. Alternatively you can click on one of the circles which punctuate the timeline itself. These represent the Key Dates, and when you hover over one of them a Key Date is shown.

Civilizations Timeline

This lies in a broad band below the map (it is not present for every map). It shows where, in history, the civilizations or specific episodes relating to that particular area of the world occurred. Clicking on these will take you to an article on that civilization.

Dig Deeper

On the right hand side is a box which contains links to articles which are relevant to the map on the screen. This function turns the map pages into jumping-off points for more in-depth research.

What else is happening in the world

At the bottom of some map pages is a section called “What else is happening in the world”. This contains links to different regions of the world at the same date as the map on the screen.

Summary information

To the left of the map is a small bit of text. This is a brief summary. Clicking on “read more” takes you to fuller information below the map.

Fuller information

This is located below the maps, and contains a fuller description of the area shown by the map at that particular Key Date. Many of these texts have embedded links anthem taking you to other maps or articles.


The Encyclopedia contains short but informative articles about civilizations, empires, regions and historical episodes. Many articles also provide suggestions for further study.

It can be accessed from the menu near the top of each page in the website.

Encyclopedia Home Page

The Encyclopedia home page contains three “find” lists: an A-Z list of articles; a list of articles in rough chronological order; and a list of articles by the regions they are related to.

Use these lists if you have a specific civilization, empire, region or historical episode in mind; or you want to know more about what happened in a particular period in world history; or you want to find out about the history of a particular Big Region (see below) of the world.


These pages do not have many navigation devices, however:

The articles themselves have embedded links to other relevant articles and maps, and there is also a related articles;

There is often (and eventually always) a further study section at the bottom, containing links to both internal resources and external sources.

There is also often a box on the right hand side containing links to relevant maps in the atlas.


For Teachers and Students

The TimeMap of World History covers all civilizations, regions and countries. We are developing a range of lesson ideas to accompany it, but to give you some general idea of how the site could support teaching and learning, what about these:

1. Worldwide roots

…give topics a worldwide context. For example, what were the non-European roots and global contexts which helped shape early modern Europe and spark the rise of the West?

2. Connections

…provide background information studying connections between different regions and civilizations, to make them more meaningful for students.

3. Historical background

…provide quick historical background to different players in such frequently-taught subjects as Early Modern Europe (what WAS the Holy Roman Empire?); The French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars (ditto! – and what about Prussia?); World War 1 (the Holy Roman Empire’s gone, but the Austro-Hungarian empire’s almost as enigmatic!) and much more.

4. Track any country

…allow your students to track the history of any country in the world, from its origins through to the 21st century (this will be useful for those whose families come from regions which are not being

focussed on in your main study).

5. The byways of history

….allow exploration of the byways of history (i.e. most of history!). For example, what happened to the Ancient Egyptians after they were famous? or the Greeks?


Quick Reference

(This might be easier to use if you print it out, or cut and paste it into a seperate document which you can refer to.)

Section 1: Using the TimeMap for browsing

Q1: Do you want to increase your knowledge but don’t want to do in-depth research?

A:  If yes, go to the Atlas home page, then go to Q2, below.

If you do want to do research, probably best to go to section 2, below.

Q2: Do you want to know about a specific region or country of the world?

A: If yes, in the Atlas home page, go to the A-Z list in the Atlas home page, and choose the relevant entry.

Otherwise go to Q3, below.

Q3: Do you want to know what’s happening in the world at a particular date?

A: If yes, in the Atlas home page, go to the Year list, choose one of the years, and choose one of the regions or countries.

Otherwise go to Q4.

Q4: Do you just want to browse at random?

A: In the Atlas home page, go to either the A-Z list or the Year list and alight on an option which sparks your interest.

Alternatively, go directly from website home page via the link in the top banner, and browse from there.

Section 2: Using the TimeMap for research

Q1: Do you want to research a specific topic at some depth?

A: If yes, probably best to go to the Encyclopedia, and to Q2, below; but you could also start with the atlas – go to Section 1, Q2.

If you simply want to browse, probably best to go to section 1, Q1, above.

Q2: Is it a particular civilization, empire, region of historical episode you’re interested in?

A: If yes, go to the A-Z List and choose the relevant item.

If the topic you want is not listed, use the Search function at the top of the page.

Otherwise, go to Q3, below.

Q3: Is it a particular period you’re interested in?

A: If yes, go to the Encyclopedia home page, Chronology list, and choose the appropriate period.

If the topic you want is not listed, use the Search function at the top of the page.

Otherwise go to Q4, below.

Q4: Do you know the region of the world?

A: If yes, go to the Encyclopedia home page, Region list, and choose the appropriate region.

If the topic you want is not listed, use the Search function at the top of the page.

Otherwise use the Search function at the top of the page.

Section 3: What to do…

You’re on a map page and you want to….

Go up a level:

Use the breadcrumb trail just above the map, on the left.

Go down a level:

Use an information marker to take you to a more close-up map

Go to a neighbouring map:

Use one of the arrows at the side of the map

Jump to another part of the world at the same date:

Either go up one or two levels (to a regional or world map) and then down again to a different location;

Or use the “Find out what’s happening elsewhere in the world” section, if there is one, situated near the bottom of the page.

Move forward to the next date:

Use the active timeline at the bottom of the page, clicking on the right hand arrow.

Go back to the previous date:

Use the active timeline at the bottom of the page, clicking on the left hand arrow.

Jump to a date at a different point in history:

Use the the Active timeline at the bottom of the page, clicking on one of the circles on the timeline.

Go to an article for more relevant information:

Either go to the Dig Deeper box and follow a link.

Or go to the Civilizations timeline (if there is one) and click on one of the entries

Or follow a link from within the map information.



Short Activity

So, you want to find out….

Q1: Did Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, build the Great Pyramids of Giza?

What to do: use the search function.

Enter the words Great Pyramids of Giza.

Then Enter the word Cleopatra.

Did she?

Q2: When did literate and urban civilization emerge in China?

What to do: go to the Atlas home page, then the A-Z index, and than China (under “C” if you’re in any doubt!).

Which map to start at? I suggest starting at the beginning and moving forward.

Q3: What civilization in Europe appeared at around the same time?

What to do: From the China page you’re on, use the breadcrumb at the top left of the map and click on World. Once in the world map, click on the marker on Europe. Once there you’ll find the answer.

Q4: So, you’re now in Europe in…ah, almost gave the game away. But in the neighbouring region of the Middle East, what new piece of military kit has changed the face of warfare?

What to do: follow the SE arrow, at the bottom left of the map, to take you to the Middle East.

Q5: While all this is happening in Europe and Asia, what’s happening in North America?

What to do: Either head for the bottom of the page to “What’s happening in the rest of the world?” and click on the relevant link there; or go back to the world map and click on the marker on North America.

Q6: What happens in this region next?

What to do: go down to the active timeline at the bottom of the screen and click on the right hand arrow. This takes you forward to the next Key Date.

Q7: Jump forward several hundred years to 500 CE. What civilization is described there as “one of the most remarkable in world history”?

What to do: move along the active timeline to the circle at 500 CE, and click on that.


Appendix: How is the TimeMap structured?

The TimeMap of World History is formed by an Atlas and an Encyclopedia.

The Atlas

The Atlas consists of a series of map sequences. These are grouped at three different levels and organized according to a uniform set of Key Dates.

Three Levels

The top level consist of the World maps.

The next level down consists of the Big regions of the world – from east to west: Oceania, East Asia, South East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, South America, North America. Another one, Central Asia, will follow.

The bottom level (at the moment) consists of countries, or small groups of countries.

Key Dates

All the map sequences in the atlas are organized around twenty key dates. This sequence starts at 3500 BCE and ends at 2005 CE. Most countries in fact do not cover all the early dates, as they emerge into the light of history at different periods.

The Key Dates have been carefully selected to give the optimum coverage of both world and regional histories.

The Encyclopedia

The Encyclopedia contains a growing range of articles on history’s civilization and empires. These articles support the Atlas maps by allowing users dig deeper into a topic. The articles are designed to be readable but authoritative, giving users a broad view of the subjects they cover.

The Encyclopedia is still incomplete, thought it is growing all the time. The ancient and medieval worlds are largely covered, but the modern world still needs a lot of work.

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