I just stumbled across a very interesting site called Maps of War that features a variety of animated maps of the middle east. The Imperial History map is particularly fascinating if you’re unfamiliar with the history of region. Over the last five millenia there have been a succession empires that rose and fell and these are shown in conjunction with an animated time line. In general, empires have lasted about three centuries, including their rise, peak and eventual decline with periods of chaos in between. The United States is well into it’s third century and the downward spiral has accelerated in the past five years as the chaos has accelerated.