For years the true faces of historical figures were solely up to the imagination. Scientist now use a process for recreating the faces of individuals from their skeletal remains. The process is called “forensic facial reconstruction.” Scientist combine skeletal remains, with anthropological, osteological, and anatomical factors. Facial reconstruction began as a tactical technology to assist in criminal investigations, and has since become practical in helping us see the true faces of some of the most prominent figures in ancient history. Now we can finally look in the eyes of Julius Creaser, or imagine what it was like to be in the cross hairs of the notorious Nero Claudius.
George Washington was the leader of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, then served as the first president of the United States from 1789-1797. The Virginia-born fearless leader who guided a fledgling nation from infancy into adolescence is the man on the dollar bill and the founding forefather of American democracy and bravery.
A Face of Fearlessness
Researchers from New Jersey Medical school in Newark came up with this computer-generated image of the first president of the United States. Scientists did quite an extraordinary job of bringing his facial features to life. Looks like a pretty serious man that you don’t want to mess with!
Shaking it Up!
William Shakespeare was an English playwright from 1564-1616 and is widely considered the most successful playwright in history. Thanks to him we have terms like, “Full Circle,” and “Night Owl.” He also has memorable lines like, “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once,” from none other than the classic play; “Julius Caesar.”
The Face of Genius
Dr. Caroline Wilkinson from Dundee University used a computer to scan the interior of the death mask to create a 3-D image of what Shakespeare looked like when he died on April 23, 1616. This portrayal of his look gives us a glimpse into his last days.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Born in Germany in the year 1685, John Sebastian Bach came from a family of musical pedigree. In 1721 Bach had completed writing his Brandenburg Concertos. Bach was known as a prodigy of the organ and wrote most of his music for the Catholic Church. Finally, we can see what the man behind the painting actually looks like!
Bach of the Head
Dr. Caroline Wilkinson from Dundee University had used a cast of Bach’s actual skull which for years was missing since the composer was buried in an unmarked grave in 1750. Scientists obtained the skull after renovations on the church Bach was believed to buried in.
The “Good” King?
At the age of just 19, King Henry IV was named the King of Navarre and got married two months later. When protestants flooded the city to celebrate, they were met with what became known as the “St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.” Despite all the bloodshed connected to his legacy. King Henry IV is known as “The Good King.”
Forensic pathologist Philippe Charlier and facial reconstruction specialist Philippe Froesch are responsible for bringing Henry IV to life. “Good King Henry” did not survive his 13th assassination attempt, as a fanatical Catholic François Ravaillac drove a dagger in his heart in 1610. You would think by attempt 12 he would quit already.
“Healing the Sick”
Some like to say Saint Anthony in his 36 years made miracles happen. I like to think he was a good salesman. Although in the pre-modern medicine world of 1195, it was pretty easy for religious figures to give themselves divine credit for healing the sick. Let’s see what the “divine healer” really looks like?
Well there it is, that’s the face of the man who healed all. Our very own A.D. Jesus. The obviously folklorish story of Saint Anthony says that when he died in 1231, church bells rang on their own, and children were crying on the streets. Sounds like the death of Kim Il Sung to me. All that is left from his burial is his bottom jaw bone, but it was enough for a scientist to figure out how he looks like.
Not Just Egypt
If you go on history channel today, all you see are shows like Ice Road Truckers or Pawn Stars, and other annoying reality-based “history” programs. But there was a time once when the history channel put on shows that actually teach you things about the past, and if you watched back, then you may have heard about Peruvian Mummies.
Buried with Treasure
The story of Peruvian mummies proves that the Egyptians were not as original as once thought. The Lord of Sipan was initially dug up in 1987. Like King Tut of Egypt, the Lord of Sipan was buried with a trove of treasures around his body. The process of recreating the body of the lord was headed by the Brazilian Team of Forensic Anthropology, and Odontology who produced this image below!
Maximilian Robespierre – 1792- 1794
Maximilian Robespierre’s reign of rule was very short. He was only head of state in France from 1792-1794, his time in office was called “The Reign of Terror” because he helped establish the Committee for Public Safety after King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were executed, and became its chief member. During the Reign of Terror, thousands of people were brutalized and executed by guillotine.
Give Me His Head
In 2013 forensic pathologist Philippe Charlier teamed up with facial reconstruction specialist Philippe Froesch to create an image of what Robespierre actually looked like. For research, they used his actual death mask, which was created a little earlier than Robespierre would’ve liked.
The Best Salesman of All
Before the time of modern medicine, science, and astrophysics it was tough to convince humans to do anything without also assuring them that you are speaking for god. It is almost as if you have to be a salesman for god to achieve your goals, some call these salesmen “prophets.” And who was the best salesman of all? The one and only JC.
Throughout history monarchs, artist, and political figures would claim to have found things that belonged to Jesus to give them divine powers over society and give them favorabilities over their work. One such laughable story is the when 1354 years after the supposed crucifixion of the fictional character, a cloth was found that was said to have belonged to him. The scientist took the DNA from the cloth and combined it with bones found dated at 2,000 years to make a depiction of what Jesus may have looked like.
Meritamun was a woman of nobility, and her remains could be as old as 3,000+ years, the 3rd century B.C. Researchers say that she was between the ages of 18-25 years old, but were unable to determine a cause of death because all they had was her skull. The University of Melbourne discovered her skull in their archives. She was from ancient Egypt, and how the skull went halfway around the world is a mystery.
Over 140 hours were required from researchers who performed CT scans on the skull and used a 3-D printer to produce the above figure. From this, researchers were also able to determine that the young woman suffered from anemia, which may have caused her to be weak and lethargic before her death.
Richard III was king of England for two years from 1483-1485. History has not been kind to Richard. He was portrayed as a brutal dictator in Shakespeare’s play which bears his name. Richard was the last king of the 330-year Plantagenet dynasty and was replaced by the Tudors.
A team from Dundee University were assembled to bring Richard III to life. There aren’t actually any paintings of him from when he was alive, but researchers had used historical records and portraits of the king. This with a newly discovered skull of the king buried under a parking lot gave scientist everything they needed to provide us with an image of the king before the Tudors.
Mary Stuart, (more popularly known as “Mary, Queen of Scots,”) was Queen of Scotland from 1542-1567. Her father died shortly after her birth, and she became the Queen when she was just six days old. Her mother sent her to France to grow up in the French court until she returned to Scotland in 1559.
The royal family is known to be very humble and back in the day took that to the extreme. She was cousins with Queen Elizabeth I. At first, the two got along famously, and Elizabeth even accepted Mary into England when the Scottish nobility revolted against her. But she got caught up in a plot to overthrow Elizabeth and spent 19 years in prison and was stripped of her throne. No prime ministers back then!
Queen Elizabeth, I reigned over England from 1559-1603, Elizabeth’s early life was full of drama, she’s lucky she became queen at all. Her father went through six wives in order to find a male heir, and Elizabeth only took the reins after her brother and sister passed away. But she definitely became a strong and inspiring Queen.
Say Hello to the Queen
Using 3-D printing and scans, Scientists created an animatronic version of her face that blinks and gives the appearance that it’s thinking. The Armada portrait at the Queen’s House in Greenwich, London was the inspiration for her face, and now we have an actual depiction of what she looked like.
Named After the Best Salad Ever!
Okay maybe not, but regardless if I were Julius Caesar, I would have been happy to know that a great salad was named after me! The emperor lost his cool though in real life, and ended up getting assassinated by his own court. Let’s see what he really looked like beyond the statues.
Can You Shame a 3-D Animation?
You, like me, have probably seen countless statues and depictions of Julius Caesar. In none of them was he portrayed with a top-heavy forehead, little lips, a big nose, pointy chin a balding head and a flat scalp. I’m not saying anything wrong with that, but I am making an observation. He looks healthy though!
Don’t Mess with This Queen!
Cleopatra reigned as co-regent over the Kingdom of Egypt for 30 years. She was highly intelligent, speaking several languages, and has been described as a woman of great Strength. Her reign of influence spread across the Mediterranean and the middle east, and she was known to have sway over many foreign leaders.
The True Face of Cleo-P
The marble bust of Cleopatra was created sometime between 40-30 B.C. and is thought to be the most accurate depiction of her. This is because artwork representing the Macedonian queen of Egypt show her with similar features and the same style of hair. Her “melon hairstyle” and the bun she sported were typical of Ptolemaic queens and were depicted in many works of art and coins that included her face on them.
Don’t Mess with the Bruce
Robert the Bruce took the throne in 1306 when King Edward I declared Scotland part of England proper rather than its own kingdom. In 1314 Bruce defeated an English army at Bannockburn, which preserved Scotland’s autonomy. Then, in late 2016, historians from the University of Glasgow teamed up with face lab specialists at the University of Liverpool to show us what he looked like.
The Man Behind the Crown
In 2016, historians from the University of Glasgow teamed up with Face Lab specialists at the University of Liverpool to show us what he looked like. You could really see the emotion behind the face of the king. This version, however, does not Bruce when he suffered from leprosy, that would have looked gross.
Nefer Mind That
Queen Nefertiti reigned alongside her pharaoh husband from 1353-1336 B.C., and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest she reigned independently after her husband’s death. Unlike other queens, she was depicted in powerful positions in Egyptian artistry. Just like King Tut, Nefertiti became far more famous when archaeologists discovered a statue of her, except hers, was buried upside down in the sand.
Behind the Bust
The CT scan reveals an elegant yet severe demeanor. Nefertiti mothered six children in her time, and one of them became the mother of King Tut. What’s far more unsettling is that King Tut’s father is Nefertiti’s husband, which would explain the deformities that plagued the boy king.
Nero Claudius Caesar ruled as emperor of Rome from 54-68 A.D. and is widely remembered as a psychopath that believed he was an incredible artist. This for sure looks like the face of a leader you don’t want to mess with. He also competed in Olympic Chariot races.
Kind of Looks like Carson Wentz
The man kind of looks like a mix of NFL quarterback Carson Wentz, with a little bit of Carrot Top. But if you told him that in 54 A.D. He would have ripped you limb from limb! You definitely want him on your team in a football game though! “What an artist dies in me!”
Best for Last
King Tutankhamun was the pharaoh of Egypt from 1334-1324 B.C., and outside of Egyptologists, no one would know his name if it weren’t for the discovery of his tomb in 1922. Archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered a great deal about the boy pharaoh, and thanks to modern technology, we now know what he looked like in his heyday!
All His Glory
King Tut succeeded his father’s throne over ancient Egypt when he was just nine years old, and he only ruled for ten years. Modern CT scans showed that his death at age 19 was a result of an infection to his lower leg after a bad chariot accident. The young king got a real nice burial though! Look at us talking about him now.