But sometimes the data does surface and then people make maps of what used to be. Take the British Empire for example. When I went to school in the early 1970′s there were maps of the world in almost every class room and they were old maps. Whether down to a lack of funding or as a reminder of what Britain used to be, these maps still showed the extent of the empire, in a pale shade of reddish-pink.
Or there’s the growing and then shrinking extent of the Roman Empire, spanning 27 BC through to 1453 AD.
There’s a whole load more Empire maps over at io9.com. However nice it is to see maps of the past, I have the same problems with these maps as I did of the maps of the changing boundaries of Europe. A static map or an animated GIF cry out for the modern interactivity of a web map. Looking at the maps above I just want to pan and zoom them and run the timeline forwards and backwards. But finding the geospatial data to do this is no easy thing.
But as a comment on my post on the maps of Europe pointed out, there is some data out there. Maybe when I get back from my summer vacation I’ll make the empire maps that I want to see.