History Timelines

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#1 4 May, 2013 - 01:46
Joined: 4 years 6 months ago

History Timelines

Hi All,

I thought I'd share my history timeline I'm working on. Feel free to use add & correct as needed. If anyone else has similar lists I would love to see them.

Note just started the wars section so is definitely lacking I'll update soon.

File: timelinesversioni.xlsx

13 May, 2013 - 00:12
Joined: 4 years 6 months ago

I've added the Aussie PMs to the challenges section with the names broken down for my memorization

26 May, 2013 - 02:02
Joined: 4 years 4 months ago

Really interested to see this. How would you put this into practice? Would you attempt to create a location for every year? I am really interested because I'm working on something similar.

I have three history journeys I'm working on, because I wanted radically different time differences. So I have prehistory, history and 19th Century (the last creeps on into the 20th century). Prehistory changes time differences throughout. History jumps in 100 year jumps, so I can estimate everything to within about 20 years, but not exact years in most cases. The 20th century has one year per location.Your text to link... I am aiming to get an overview of world history. Interesting that we both started with the British kings and queens. I haven't put in the Australian PMs much yet. Says something about my education.

We are also setting things out differently. Mine loses some of the clarity you have. My first column is the location walking around the block for the dates.

I tried to load a file. If you want to see my spreadsheet, then let me know and i'll work it out.

26 May, 2013 - 05:36
Joined: 4 years 6 months ago

Hi Lynne,

Welcome to the forum I read your first post which is very interesting and yes I would love to see your spreadsheet.

Each of the lists have come from different journeys starting at one location and concluding in a logical flow. Kings & Queens & British PMs came from Ed Cooke's book remember remember.

As for the dates it's been a bit of a battle but in essence I've been trying out different methods and sometimes the real grey matter kicks in and helps out.

For the First President I imagine George (Jaws) Washington (Washing in an array of bubble) in a limo driving to an airport the year is 1789 so that encoded using the Major system http://mt.artofmemory.com/wiki/Major_System is (tiger in fabric) for me, sat next to the bubbly great white shark.

It is great though because for my British timeline I remember King George III going mad in part because of the American revolution and so these two timelines interact and align themselves at that point in time.

As I go back further I put markers for time along the journey so that when I cross them I can relate their position to other timelines as above. The markers for that time are specific and stay the same no matter what list i'm running through.

In my Geological time periods

I split the first 3 Eons into rooms & Eras into activities in the room. the last eon and current one has more subdivisions so I have my 'fan her hose' (Phanerozoic Eon) or 'a fan blowing a pink entangled hose oscillating across 3 rooms for the eon, the eras are the three rooms and the periods the activities in the room.

Anyway keep your knowledge flowing I think I could learn a great deal from you.

26 May, 2013 - 21:57
Joined: 5 years 3 months ago

richomagic - is this something you are doing just for personal interest, or do you have a class/course/other that requires it? :)

26 May, 2013 - 23:56
Joined: 4 years 6 months ago

No it's purely for interest but it does become a bit addictive when your brain works in ways you never thought it could. I wonder what other knowledge lurks out there waiting to be found just like mnemonics?

27 May, 2013 - 06:23
Joined: 4 years 4 months ago

I think I could lean a lot from you, too. Thank you for the history and geologic time spreadsheets. It is fascinating to compare techniques. I didn't imagine I could talk to anyone else doing this. Are the separate parts of your history journeys actually separate sets of locations, or all built onto the same set of locations?

I think I have attached my two spreadsheets. So many replies and so much to learn, I am struggling with time. I didn't cover the classical world mnemonists much in my thesis, nor the Middle Ages and Renaissance, nor modern memory championships - all were mentioned in passing. I just drew on Yates' discussion of Ad Herennium. I came more from the indigenous methods. The classic art of memory stuff needs to be expanded for the memory book - so I've been enmeshed in it all day and getting all sorts of amazing emails and facebook posts about it. I desperately need 32 hour days, at the very least. It's all so interesting. The dog was a bit stroppy - she's used to doing either History Block or Prehistory Block each day. The house has 1900- as well as being part of the Countries journey which leaves the house and heads off down the street to get the shopping. Being 2 blocks from the shops gives me another 120 locations with every trip to get a loaf of bread!


6 March, 2015 - 17:45
Joined: 3 years 8 months ago

Thanks for sharing, Lynne Kelly.

7 March, 2015 - 15:53
Joined: 4 years 4 months ago

Thank you, LikeARollingStone. An interesting historical wakeup. I wrote that when I was finishing the thesis. It is now an archaeology book, which will be published by Cambridge University Press, arguing that these techniques strongly predate the Greeks, can be found in all non-literate cultures and can be shown to be the clue to the purpose of building monuments like Stonehenge. The title is "Knowledge and power in prehistoric societies: orality, memory and the transmission of culture'. Catchy, isn't it? Academic titles are like that.


I have a grant to write a book covering similar topics but with more emphasis on memory. I will be talking about these memory journeys and the way I have adapted the other methods used by oral cultures in that book for the mainstream market.

Your 'Thank you' has reminded me how far I have come in that time. I am struggling through the page proofs of the Cambridge book at the moment, thinking how slowly it all happens. You have given me the proof that it is not so. Thank you!

7 March, 2015 - 22:39
Joined: 4 years 6 months ago

Well done Lynne Kelly, such an achievement realised. It's great to hear and encourages others on their journeys!

23 May, 2015 - 04:09
Joined: 3 years 8 months ago

Just saying, if you, richomagic, Lynne Kelly or anyone else would write a book of mems for world history (or ancient history, WWII, the Rose Wars, anything, really), I would buy it.

I have just bought a book of mems containing suggestion for mems for the 1000 most common German words. That book has mems people can visualize, as opposed to the variety of mems on Memrise, which are useful, but not everyone of those come on handy when using a memory palace.

The man who writes such books in my mother tongue (5 million speakers) makes a pretty good living out of it as well. We have this rather absurd openness about taxable income, so it is to be seen right here. 140,000 dollars. He writes excellent books on memorization and holds lectures, that's pretty much where the income is coming from, and it's well deserved, if I may say. He is doing an outstanding job.

29 May, 2015 - 22:32
Joined: 4 years 4 months ago

Hi LikeARollingStone, love the idea! My history journey has gone on in leaps and bounds since I wrote here. It has got easier and easier as I have added more and more locations to it. I have also selected 130 'ancestors' - major characters from history and placed them in the journey, along with plenty of others. But those 130 are people from a range of disciplines across the time span from 1000 BC until now. They are also encoded to card decks. They give me more hooks to hang the stories of their disciplines. For example, there are a number of physicists dotted through which link the story of Physics. I can hang the discoveries and so on from them. I have the major kings and queens, presidents and so on in there already, so they aren't 'ancestors'. I chose 130 people who I felt had major impact, some good, some otherwise. It is becoming the most amazing journey to walk. I am always looking for permanence in the things I memorise, not speed. I'd be useless in competition.

Writing books is what I do for a living. My next book is all about the way indigenous cultures use mnemonics, like the Method of Loci, and what that explains the purpose of Stonehenge and lots of other monuments around the world. Pretty ambitious, but it got me a PhD and is published by Cambridge University Press. It came out only a few days ago.


I have just been contracted to write a mainstream book with more emphasis on the memory methods and the archaeology, and less of the academic stuff. That will come out next July.

Then I would love to do a mnemonics book. I do world history, all the countries of the world in population order, world prehistory, as well as local ones such as all the birds of our state in taxonomic order. Mammals, astronomy, history of writing and of art, Greek and Roman mythology ... I have a whole stack of experiments going using the various methods I have learned from indigenous cultures who rely totally on memory for all the information on which their survival depends - well, did when things were completely non-literate.

I quote Oddbjorn By in my thesis, current book and will do so in my next book. I love what he writes although I have to read it in English.

Lots to think about! Thank you!

30 May, 2015 - 02:03
Joined: 2 years 6 months ago

Hi Lynne,

I'm very interested in how you've started building your history journey. In a previous post you wrote:

Lynne Kelly wrote:
History jumps in 100 year jumps, so I can estimate everything to within about 20 years, but not exact years in most cases.

and now that you've added more locations to it. Does this mean that at first you didn't place all the events of the journey at specific locations? Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but it sounds as if at first there were some cases where you placed some historic events "in between loci". Sort of "it happened on the straight part of the journey between this revolution and that discovery, at about one fifth along the way". If so, it sounds great since it does not require creating thousands of locations in preparation and allows one to start small and then to add more locations. But was it memorable enough? Weren't those "in-between" events lost? Or maybe I'm reading this completely wrong, in this case can you tell a little bit more about how were you starting with this journey? Were you inserting locations on a "need to place an event" basis? In that case how did you fight the tendency to forget the new locations since you've trained to go from the previous one straight to the next?

The classical method of loci prepares the journey beforehand and then fills it with data, while you seem to have been developing the journey incrementally for some period of time. This sounds much more manageable for a non-fulltime studying, can you tell a little more how did you do it "the incremental way"? Thank you, if it's possible it'll open the possibility of learning in small pieces a bit of history, the subject I was afraid to touch because of the amount of work that needed to be invested all at once.

30 May, 2015 - 07:37
Joined: 4 years 4 months ago

Hi Urfin, Yes, you have understood what I am doing. I am not sure if it is the method of loci strictly speaking. I encode very little at a time. I find five or so events the most I can do reliably in a single session. I am after long term reliability, not short term speed. It depends on the purpose of the memorisation as to the techniques I use. Let me compare two journeys I am doing to make it clearer.

1. The 242 countries of the world. I have done these in population order, because that gives me more information built in than doing them in alphabetical order. Each location is one country. Straight Method of Loci. I then add more and more data to each location, but there are distinct loci.

2. The History Journey. This is continuous. The whole journey matches time, which is also continuous. I started by dividing up the block I walk into 100 year divisions and learnt those loci. Mostly, that is 500 years per block. I start on the corner nearest to my home. So the corners are 0, 500, 1000, 1500 and back to the start which I have as 1800 AD, because I need more room for more recent events. The journey continues on back to my home (1900) and then every year around the house and garden. I then subdivided the edges of the the block, finding something each hundred years, such as the start of a house or side road, bus stop or tree. I memorised those locations. After 1400, I subdivided again, giving me 25 year jumps between loci from then on.

Then I started adding events or people, just a few at a time. The Pueblo Revolt is in 1680. It happened there is a Private Keep Out sign on the fence. Perfect - the Pueblo were keeping out the Spanish. The sign is between 1675 and 1700, nearer the former, so I am going to guess the date at about 1680-1690. Just a bit earlier is the start of the Qing Dynasty in China at 1644. I have placed a picnic on the ground there. It is also the Manchu dynasty. So I have a man chewing on his picnic and calling (with a Qing sound) for more food from the house across the road. I won't get the exact date, but I know that the Qing Dynasty is going on right around the corner and into my garden to 1912 when the Chinese Republic finishes it. Meanwhile, the Pueblo Revolt is happening in New Mexico, William and Mary (mesh fence) are turning up in England (1689)....

This would not work if I was using five locations in a room. There would be too few places too close together. I am using 100 metres for 500 years, 5 years per metre is plenty. There is so much stuff at each point in terms of what I can see on both sides of the road, and on the road surface at every year, that I can go on adding forever. At one stage I have the Ottoman Empire on one side of the road and the West on the other. I just keep playing with it depending on what I need to encode.

However, I mentioned in the later post that I have chosen 130 'ancestors'. That was partly because there is a lot of talk on this forum for using characters for playing cards. I use a normal deck and a tarot deck giving me 130 cards. I assigned 130 major characters from history to the cards. I have placed them all in the history journey, but I am also using the cards to add lots of detail about them which would just crowd the history journey. I link nested journeys as has been described elsewhere in this forum. I sometimes use handheld objects such as the cards and sometimes other little landscape journeys.

I just keep adding. Joan of Arc dies in 1431. There happened to be a wood pile there, which amused me greatly. But then they removed the wood pile and put a water tank covering the spot. Later, I had to add an ancestor, Mehmed the Conquerer, being born in 1432 (6 diamonds). Wonderful, I now see the tank falling from the heavens and smashing poor dear Joan to pieces as the water puts out her fire. Mehmed had conquered her. The 6 dropping onto the diamond point looks like a tank dropping onto her post on the pyre - well it does to me now.

Isaac Newton needed to get born in at 1642. There's a tree at the Manchu picnic spot. It is a eucalyptus, but in my mind it has become and apple tree. The apple drops on the man chewing's head, but Newton ignores the poor guy's injuries and starts waffling on about gravity.

I my mind, I might walk the block just drawing out the kings and queens, or the Chinese dynasties or my 'ancestors'. Or I might stop at one location, say 1200, and see King John in England and Great Zimbabwe flourishing in Africa. I like to ponder on one spot and enjoy it, looking forward and back in time. I am forever playing with the journey mentally. I only physically walk it when I am encoding new information. Otherwise it is all just imagined. I never do the whole journey with all events or person at one time, because it would take hours upon hours and be boring. I do have a spreadsheet which I keep up to date with everything I've added which I sometimes scan to check I haven't lost anything.

I can add information forever, because there is plenty of stuff which can be seen from any point on the journey to connect to an event or person. Then I just walk through time, not from event to event, from loci to loci, but smoothly through the years.

I have also done prehistory on the block in the opposite direction so they join. I didn't do every 25 years, starting from 4.5 million years ago! Setting the time divisions initially was much more complicated, but now they are done, it works a treat.

I can place anything in the life of this earth in my journeys, which is in time. I shall be adding to them forever. I can never again move house - I couldn't bear to lose my walks.

Does that make sense?

4 June, 2015 - 02:24
Joined: 2 years 6 months ago

Thank you very much for such a detailed explanation, Lynne! This is extremely helpful and even means that I can now by following your method turn one of my problems into an asset. The problem was that a journey that I walk very often (from home to work), does not have enough outstanding memorable features to turn it into a regular memory palace. It has corners, houses, driveways all slightly different but not different enough to remember by themselves. In fact if I choose some of these to serve as locations I would need to use another method of loci to remember them, which kind of defeats the purpose.
But with the continuous placement of historical events I think there will be enough reinforcement from events to the landmarks and back, that the journey would be perfect for a historical period.

I'm also more interested in storing information long-term, and I don't see myself joining competitions (not anytime soon anyway) but the competitive memory disciplines for me seem to have also some possible practical applications, such as an ability to instantly memorise a telephone number or a license plate (not to mention "names and faces" that I need to start training urgently - for real life use).

If you don't mind such curiosity, how are you using cards for additional details?

In my "to memorise" list (that I sadly keep electronically for now) is an idea to memorise the Tarot cards interpretations by using the cards themselves. For example using Rider-Waite "Hierophant" card there are two columns on the sides, two monks at the bottom, the crossed keys - all these will become loci to store the interpretations. But that probably will have to wait until I have enough time (and planting some history memories along the route to work seems a more interesting project right now)

31 May, 2015 - 05:35
Joined: 2 years 6 months ago

wow! I'm very surprised ... man this Idea is very amazing and I will start now

4 June, 2015 - 07:52
Joined: 4 years 4 months ago

Hi Badr4sudan and Urfin,
I am getting a bit confused about what to answer where because Urfin and I are now comparing notes through messages as well. So apologies for repetitions and waffle.

Badr4sudan, it would be great to have someone else try this out and compare notes with us. Urfin has already started me adding new ideas to my method.

As for the Tarot cards - I am now going to get even more confusing. But first to catch Badr4sudan up on where we have got to off-list. I have selected 130 people throughout history as my main characters. Lots more appear in the History Journey. Those 130 cross disciplines - scientists, leaders, writers and so on - offering hooks for others in that field. I have encoded them to a normal card deck and a tarot deck (52 + 78 = 130). I am mimicking the way people talk on this forum of giving cards characters for memorisation but also the way indigenous cultures use a pantheon of mythological characters whose stories encode practical information on which their survival depends. By doing my characters in chronological order, I have more information in the card sequence than randomly choosing celebrities.

Urfin - answering your question about how I am using the images on the tarot - yes, I then use the details of the images on the tarot cards to add further information about the person or their context. It offers much more than the normal deck.

I am also testing out the way indigenous cultures will use a single handheld device to stack various layers of information. So I am using my 78 tarot cards to memorise information about 78 archaeological sites as well. Again chronological, mostly relating to my Prehistory Journey, such as Stonehenge, although some get into the History Journey, such as Easter Island. I wanted to see if this layering of different information would confuse me, but for some reason it hasn't so far. I am not well into that experiment yet. My brain seems perfectly capable of separating out whatever information it wants to extract from the card in question. It sometimes makes links between the the person and the totally unrelated archaeological site which helps memorisation, but that causes no hassle when I am thinking either archaeology or my characters in history. I know that sounds confusing, but it hasn't proven to be yet. I will be interested to see where it leads.

I am really keen to compare ideas with either or both of you on using a continuous Journey for history. I want to have a system that will enable me to continuously add to it until I have included everything that has ever happened in the history of the human race. I like to be ambitious!

19 June, 2015 - 11:22
Joined: 2 years 4 months ago

Great information !

15 November, 2015 - 07:28
Joined: 3 years 8 months ago

Hi LikeARollingStone, love the idea! My history journey has gone on in leaps and bounds since


Any news about your work would be highly appreciated. I would definitely buy the book if you write one, with your mems. I find that such mems are a good foundation to build other information on. For example if one has 100 kings in a row, or the 100 most important happenings of The Middle Ages, acquring more information becomes easier and eaiser.

I would buy such a book if it's written about topics ranging from history and geography to chemistry and biology.

21 November, 2015 - 06:08
Joined: 1 year 11 months ago

I'm following this topic - I am planning study for my two children for american history and world history and I would like to employ some of what you guys are doing. Thanks for sharing!

13 December, 2015 - 21:48
Joined: 4 years 4 months ago

I haven't thought about writing a book just on the memory journeys, LikeARollingStone, but might think about it after my next book is out. It finally has a title, The Memory Code, and will be out next July here in Australia and then in the UK and US. That book sees the method of loci as the code to unlock the way non-literate cultures memorise so much information and then why that explains the 'mystery' of ancient non-literate sites such as Stonehenge and Easter Island. Strange that we know these memory methods are extremely effective, we know these cultures had the same brain as us and we know they were dependent on their memories for all the knowledge that their survival depended on culturally and physically. So it wasn't a big leap to say that they must have used these memory systems just as non-literate cultures like our Australian Aboriginals do.

I will mention your suggestions to my publisher, LikeARollingStone, and see what comes of it.

mayaangel, because I was a teacher and mix with education people a lot, I am getting lots of interest in how these methods could be used in education. I am really interested in what you try and what works with your children. I wonder if that's a book that needs to be written as well!

Does anyone know if there are specific books for kids on creating history journeys with specific examples? Sounds like fun to write!

2 June, 2016 - 07:35
Joined: 1 year 4 months ago

Thank you Lynne Kelly for your explanations on how you're doing it (and thank you for your other posts on this forum, they have helped me a lot).

I like a lot your way of doing this, but I am concerned about a few things. Suppose you want to know :
- what happened around 1640: you start from your 1500 bloc, and then «count» till you're there? or you know where 1640 is? or you know that it's near the picnic spot? One you're there can you do a 360 panorama to see a little bit far away? Do you see all the people/events at once, or do you picture the picnic spot, then the eucalyptus, then.....?
- what are the events you know about Newton: once again: go you know he is in the 1500 bloc, then walk and see the eucalyptus (birth), then see a "dispute" near 1700 (Leibniz–Newton calculus controversy), then something for the Newton's Laws of motion, then… to the moment of his death? or you can «see» all the events/loci(eucalyptus…) that he is linked to?
- do you "store" precise dates (YYYY/MM/DD) for some events? if so how?

In other posts, other people are rather doing a YYYY/digits to letter conversion and then PAO or new word/sentence to link to the event: for instance 1969 is t-d/p-b/j-sh…/p-b and converted to ToBy SHoP, so when Neil Armstrong goes to the moon, he goes to the ToBy SHoP for souvenir. Then if you want to know the date, you picture the moon, then the Toby shop, then 1969. And I am afraid that with your method, I would have to link an object to be more precise.
But if you want to know what happen in 1969, you have to find all of the possible t/p/j/p combination you can think of… And if you want something near in date… that's impossible. So that's why I like your method a lot.

My concern is more important with the last decades. I think I would like to remember a lot of precise dates, and I may have to stretch out my journey near the end, otherwise it will be too crowded…

That's not the topic, but it's closely related: I'd like to remember things with orders of magnitude (for instance with mass: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Orders_of_magnitude_(mass)). I think I can do blocks with several power of tens (like the wikipedia page), and then associate something with the mass of muon, then add later the mass of neutron, but I'm afraid that if they are too close on the journey, I won't be able to insert correctly proton and hydrogen. (And of course with the correct value!)

How would you do if you suddenly decided to learn the exact year/month/day for relevant events?

8 July, 2016 - 04:54
Joined: 6 years 6 months ago

Hi Lynne, this has really been a marvelous series of posts to read, but I got a question.
I started years ago a similar (smaller) project, in the vein mentioned by rototo : a memory palace (a big museum in Torino, where I live) containing in its rooms the largest history timeline I could fit into it.
It lacks a regular division as yours 500/1000/1500... block sides, so it needed a careful planning since it's hard to fit additional images if you forgot that you really need to remember that in 1140 Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote Historia Regum Britanniae... in any case, I filled the rooms in sequence with images - coalescing the date (by PAO), the historical fact, and the museum environment where the image sits.

A couple of years ago I stopped - exactly at 1194-1250 Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor... :-) since I was overwhelmed by a new, huge project (the Divina Commedia by heart, now just finished Purgatory). The fact is, if I get back to my rooms in that museum, I still see most (not all) of those images and can reconstruct the historical events: this is due to a reasonable application of the basic rules for images formation: beautiful, scary, surprising... but also to the fact that in a typical museum room I had ~ 5 images, no more.

Following your guidelines, I'm worried that I could never obtain such a high density of images - using a single block for 2000 years! - and even if I could, I'm sure that a large part of those images would end up in nondescript locations, leading to a difficulty to memorize them. I doubt that without constant refreshing I could recover my timeline after two years if I made it this way...

So: did you experience these problems? And in case, how did you overcome them???

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