The intellectual epicenter of Western civilization has expanded dramatically over the past 2,000 years. Once centered in Rome and Athens, culture soon spread out to Paris and London, and, eventually, New York and Hollywood.
In a study published last week in the journal Science, researchers from Northeastern University mapped the dispersal of cultural history across Europe and North America, showing the boom and bust of various regions over time. They tracked the birth and death locations of more than 150,000 intellectuals (culled from several databases, including the General Artist Lexicon, the Getty Union List of Artist Names, and Freebase) in Europe and America over the span of the last two millennia. They then visualized the results by mapping the geographical trajectories of these artists and thinkers over their lifetime, marking birth places in blue and death places in red.