Map of the Week: A stroll through hundreds of thousands of years of migration

This map makes the human settlement of Australia look like a quick side-quest.

This map makes the human settlement of Australia look like a quick side-quest. Photo: TND/Jeff Blossom

Your friendly neighbourhood Stats Guy is on parental leave for the next eight weeks. So instead of a weekly data-driven column I am going to share some of my all-time favourite maps with you, week after week.

Migration has always been a hot topic in Australia, but it’s hardly a new phenomenon.

Human history, from the very beginning, is a continuous narrative of migration. Big History is the academic discipline that starts historic exploration at the Big Bang and ends in the here-and-now.

Today I want to share my favourite human migration map with you.

I love the map because of its graphic elegance and visual appeal. Remember that historical data for maps like these are hard to come by, disputed, and constantly being updated.

To display the data underpinning the map, the author used the Fuller projection to allow us to view the historic human migration movement in an elegantly “straight-forward” way.

We see human migration out of Africa beginning maybe 200,000 years ago and slowly making its way to the tip of South America only 10,000 years ago. This map makes the historic human settlement of Australia look like a quick side-quest.

Migration map

Source: Jeff Blossom/Center for geographical Analysis-Harvard University

The marvellous map was sourced from National Geographic for whom Paul Salopek engaged in a great journey walking this 38,000km path of human history.

If you want to see an animated version of human migration data, have a look at this 40 second gem on YouTube.

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