Ancestral Whispers is an organisation that, among other projects, specialises 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 layer soft tissue over a given cranial structure—and produce a representation of what that human being may have looked like. Its website is full of examples of serious archaeology, genetic and historical maps, and is a fascinating rabbit-hole to get lost in.
Even scientists need downtime, though, and one of the members of Ancestral Whispers, @Sulkalmakh, recently posted a reconstruction of “an ancient Atmoran from Saarthal, dated to the late Merethic era” (thanks GamesRadar+).
Facial reconstruction of an ancient Atmoran from Saarthal, dated to the late Merethic Era. pic.twitter.com/jz8R5IgsT7April 1, 2022
Yes: it’s a Skyrim skeleton that’s had soft tissue ‘reconstructed’ around it. Atmora is a continent in the Elder Scrolls world while Saarthal is the ruined former capital of Skyrim: and it’s now a tomb so you find plenty of skeletons there. The ‘Merethic era’ is also an Elder Scrolls period of time, not a real-world one.
Turns out humans from the ‘Merethic era’—when life in Atmora was less boney—looked a lot like Iggy Pop. Maybe a bit less gaunt.
One of the nicest elements of this is that the artist who designed these skeletons saw the reconstruction. “Ha! I literally designed the skeletons from Skyrim,” writes Jonah Lobe. “You did an AWESOME JOB with the reconstruction. I wanted them to look thuggish, thick-jawed, thick-browed and sort of Neanderthal-like. This is THAT.
“Since they were going to be attacking the player, I wanted them to look intimidating but not with those meanie-eyes you see on so many fantasy skeletons. The answer, for me, was to go heavy with the brows and BIG with the teeth, and just thicc 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 does kind of make me want to see one built on one of those silly Elden Ring skeleton models.
The reason behind the endeavor was not Ancestral Whispers embarking on a new videogame project, however. And although Sulkalmakh’s above tweet appeared on April 1, the reconstruction is genuine. Best April fools gag I’ve seen this year.