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Professor Pettitt looking at the cave art images

One of our archaeologists has helped to create modern history as cave art to celebrate the launch of a new video game.

Image credit: SWNS

The project

Ahead of the launch of HUMANKIND, a brand-new historical strategy game which takes players on a tour through history, SEGA approached Durham Professor Paul Pettitt to ask for his help in re-creating historical moments from modern history.

The key moments, which include the England Rugby Union World Cup win, Brexit, Live Aid and coronavirus, were chosen by the British public in a recent survey and crafted on the Hellfire Caves in West Wycombe.

How was the cave art created?

Paul worked alongside illustrator Emmy Smith and the pair used some of the same techniques and colours our ancestors used over 30,000 years ago.

By using the contours of the rocks, the pair visualised where the images could fit on the cave wall. This is where pareidolia acting in the brain interprets natural shapes as meaningful things, which is known to have guided early artists.

In the same way that we look at clouds and visualise shapes and objects, cave men and women would have drawn pictures of deer and horses on the contours of the rocks in a celebration of life.

Cave art images

Image credit: SWNS

Influences of our past in modern day life

Cave art was our first real form of visual communication and many symbols used in our modern world today originated in the Ice Age.

The symbol of a hand, which has recently been used as part of the coronavirus awareness campaign and the Black Lives Matter symbol, was actually one of the first images ever created by our ancestors.

Images of cave art

Image credit: SWNS

Find out more:

• Watch a trailer from HUMANKIND

• Watch a promotional video of the cave art

• Interested in studying Archaeology at Durham University?

• Find out more about Professor Paul Pettitt