The rise and fall of civilizations over the history of humankind is a difficult thing to accurately depict in graphic form, but this BBC online presentation is a wholly engrossing way to look at the transformation and dissemination of religions and ideologies. Guided by the presence of a virtual ant that weaves its way across the introductory screen, the screen displays a metaphorical phrase from a Persian poet: "How can an ant know the pattern of the carpet?" As the site itself notes, "Civilisations represents an attempt to exploit the Internet's strengths (i.e. user customization, evolving websites, animation, and critical user feedback." It succeeds in this enterprise, as users can customize the interactive map of the world so that they can modify the speed at which themes are displayed over time (such as the spread of Hinduism), along with focusing on any given area of the world. The interface also allows users to examine key events in the development of any given ideology or religion, including Communism and its diffusion across the world. This site is an excellent way for users of all ages to view a novel and compelling way of visually depicting the movement of various religions and ideologies.


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