The ancestor trend on TikTok, explained.
What started as an engaging way for Stephanie Black, a graduate student in archeology at Durham University, to share how similar we are to our ancestors, quickly escaped the confines of academic TikTok to become this week’s standout trend on the platform — so popular that even Drew Barrymore attended.
In these videos, informally known as Ancestral Trends, the creators don makeshift costumes and, through their captions, engage in imaginary conversations with their ancestors about how their lives may and may not have changed over time. All videos are voiced by Ryn Weaver, a tone used in over 29,000 videos, with a highly pitched edit of “Pierre”. For example @zaytchik.bunny(Opens in a new tab) posted a video of herself dressed as a modern girl, a girl in 1930 and a 15th-century peasant girl, all eating soup on a winter’s night to feel better. In another video @_happy_dagger_(Opens in a new tab) has a conversation with a woman from the year 500 BC. B.C., which connects via the writing of Sapphic poetry.
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Some of these videos show the creators genuinely connecting with their culture and traditional practices. In a video @psitsvvic(Opens in a new tab) chats with a Chinese woman about hair sticks 1,200 years ago. In another @dontgotaclueintheworld(Opens in a new tab) bonds with her grandmother for coloring her nails with henna. Additionally, many of the videos are created by members of historically marginalized communities speaking to their ancestors about the progress made and not made—a common response from the creator’s ancestor is, “Can we do this now?” Other uses of the trend aren’t quite so heartily and instead poke fun at the absurdity of modernity.
Black is part of a niche on TikTok where historians, archaeologists, and medievalists try to make their fields accessible to the average viewer. She often posts about archaeological finds or articles that she finds particularly interesting. After reading about Neanderthals harvesting crabs off the coast of what is now Portugal, she was inspired to post the video that inadvertently started the trend. “I thought it would be cool if I could do someone who ‘talks’ to one of the Neanderthals in modern times to show how we are connected because you can read this scientific article and about the statistical analysis, that they did… but it’s not necessarily accessible to others that way,” Black told Mashable. “I wanted to be like that We Eat crabs, and if you put us in that cave 90,000 years ago with the Neanderthals roasting crabs, we couldn’t talk to them, we’re completely different, but we could have sat there and eat crabs with them.”
Black released TikTok’s trending launch on February 9th.
Photo credit: TikTok / archthot
She knows that the TikTok algorithm prioritizes her comedic videos that use trending audio, so she set about making the crab video(Opens in a new tab) She chose “Pierre” because of the pitch, which allows for a seamless transition between her and the Neanderthal. She made many follow-up videos ranging from fast food to ancient Rome(Opens in a new tab)e for weaving in ancient Egypt(Opens in a new tab). Her format quickly took off among TikTok historians with @historical_han_(Opens in a new tab) posting a series of videos showing how skincare and makeup practices have evolved since ancient times and became mainstream soon after.
“History can be pretty abstract, and in these videos, the TikTok community makes these people real,” Black explained. “It’s really beautiful when people realize they have a connection to the past, and I love how everyone has done it in their own unique way.”
https://mashable.com/article/ancestor-trend-tiktok The ancestor trend on TikTok, explained.