Silouhette of a caveman

Hidden Depths

This website, and the resources within it, form part of a research project called Hidden Depths, which is based at the University of York and funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

This website forms the outreach section of the project, and aims to use archaeological evidence to encourage discussion among young people about their assumptions about human nature and what it means to be human, and how these assumptions affect their lives.

It is hoped that by using these resources, educators can engage young people in discussion about a range of issues relating to mental health and wellbeing.

To find out more about the project as a whole, visit our academic website at:

Introduction video to Hidden Depths project

Silhouette of a caveman against stormy skies (with play button)

The resources on these website are completely free to use. They have been designed with the UK’s Key Stage 3 PSHE and SMSC curricula in mind, though can easily be modified to cover a range of ages, abilities and subjects.

You can jump straight to the lesson material with menu at the top of the page or use the sections below to find out more or download the education packs.

John Templeton Foundation Logo University of York Logo Hidden Depths Logo

Powerpoint Files (ppt and pdf)

Lesson Plans (pdf)

Feedback form (online)

The project has been put together in collaboration with teachers, outreach specialists and prehistorians. The core team for this website and material are:

Penny Spikins is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Archaeology, University of York. Her current research focuses on cognitive and social evolution, including the archaeology of compassion, the dynamics of egalitarianism, the origins of autism, the evolution of self-control, and Neanderthal childhood. She has written a number of books, including most recently How Compassion Made Us Human and The Prehistory of Autism, and is currently working on a new volume entitled Hidden Depths: The Ancestry of our Most Human Emotions, funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Taryn Bell is a PhD student and Research Assistant at the Department of Archaeology, University of York. She completed her MSc in Early Prehistory at York in 2016, and her doctoral research focuses on the archaeology of emotional attachments to objects.

Alexis Pantos is an archaeologist-cum-digital practitioner with an interest in prehistory. Work includes excavation, documentation and presentation. A recently completed MSc in Heritage Visualisation at the Glasgow School of Art explored the role of linked digital systems in artistic reconstructions of the past.