Ancestral Whispers (opens in new tab) is an organization that, among other projects, specializes in facial reconstructions of prehistoric humans. Its software is based on the pioneering methods of Soviet archaeologist and anthropologist Mikhail Gerasimov and, essentially, is able to place layers of soft tissue over a given cranial structure – and produce a representation of what that human might have been like. Their website is full of examples of serious archeology, genetic and historical maps, and it’s a fascinating rabbit hole to get lost in.
Even scientists need downtime, and one of the Ancestral Whispers, @Sulcalmakh (opens in new tab)recently posted a reconstruction of “an ancient Atmoran of Saarthal, dating to the end of the Merethic era” (thanks GamesRadar+ (opens in new tab)).
Facial reconstruction of an ancient Atmoran from Saarthal, dating to the end of the Merethic Era. pic.twitter.com/jz8R5IgsT7April 1, 2022
Yes: it’s a Skyrim skeleton that has had soft tissue ‘rebuilt’ around it. Atmora is a continent in the Elder Scrolls world, while Saarthal is the ancient ruined capital of Skyrim: and now it’s a tomb, so you’ll find a lot of skeletons there. The ‘Meethic era’ is also an Elder Scrolls time period, not the real world.
It turns out that the humans of the ‘Merethic era’ – when life in Atmora was less bony – looked a lot like Iggy Pop. Maybe a little less thin.
One of the most beautiful elements of this is that the artist who designed these skeletons saw the reconstruction. “Ha! I literally drew the skeletons of Skyrim,” writes Jonah Lobe. “You did an AMAZING JOB with the reconstruction. I wanted them to look like thugs, thick jaws, thick eyebrows and a little Neanderthal. That’s THAT.
“Since they were going to attack the player, I wanted them to look intimidating, but not with those evil eyes you see on so many fantasy skeletons. The answer, for me, was to get heavy with the eyebrows and BIG with the teeth, and just thick overall!”
The most surprising element of this is probably that the skeleton results in a more realistic looking face than anything you’ll see in Skyrim – and it makes me want to see one built on one of those silly Elden Ring skeleton models.
The reason behind the venture wasn’t Ancestral Whispers embarking on a new video game project, however. And while the above tweet from Sulkalmakh appeared on April 1, the reconstruction is genuine. The best April Fools joke I’ve seen this year.