This is an awesome map with a built in timeline history lesson. The Middle East has been a hotbed for tranferring power and fighting for millenia. One thing that really stands out from this map, is that the Mongols and Romands had some awesome empires. Many people know about the Romans, but few know how powerful the Mongols were. Barry Strauss is a history professor at Cornell who specializes in ancient warfare and military history. He's brilliant, and wrote an op-ed in the daily newspaper at Cornell right after Sept 11th about how the USA would have to fight in Afganistan to win. The US pretty much followed his playbook and toppled the Taliban.
From time to time, he would discuss the Mongols. Strauss would mention the Mongols and how they were the best horse riding force ever. The Mongols also are responsible for some of Iran's problems as much of the wonderful irrigation systems dating back to the Persian Empire were destroyed when Khan and his men rode through Iran. The Mongols raped, murdered and burned their way across Eurasia. The only thing that spared Western Europe from being backward for centuries and not progressing as rapidly as it did was that the Khan died. To choose a proper new Khan, the Mongols all had to go back home to settle on his heir. Thankfully, they forgot about conquering Europe.