Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication Cover

A cover that I produced for Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication, a book edited by scientist Douglas A. Vakoch and published by NASA.

About the art, from the dust jacket of the book:

“Created by Paul Duffield, the cover art for this book uses design to link the contemporary Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) with insights from the disciplines of anthropology and archaeology. Sensitive telescopes may someday detect signals from extraterrestrials, encrypted in a simple binary code of ones and zeros. This digitization of knowledge epitomizes the technological nature of interstellar exchange. In Duffield’s illustration, streams of data connect urban centers in Earth’s Southern Hemisphere with the civilizations of other worlds.

But could we understand the content of such messages? The Egyptian hieroglyphics traced on the planet’s surface conjure images of an interstellar Rosetta Stone that would enable independently evolved civilizations to communicate across the vast spaces between the stars. The Rongorongo script encircling the Northern Hemisphere reminds us that even on Earth, where numerous indecipherable records have been left by our own species, we still struggle to comprehend the meaning of lost languages. This hovering script also portends the profound impact that the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence would have on all human cultures.

Centering the image of Earth on Africa recalls the anthropological fieldwork done there on the origins of humankind, while the strong classical letterforms of the font chosen for the title evoke the monuments of bygone societies. The interstellar signaling from “below” the planet catches us off guard, seeming to levitate Earth and reminding us that such fundamental notions as up and down—along with many other human concepts—may lose their moorings in a broader cosmic context.”

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