9,000-year-old Jericho skull gets virtual facelift using plastic surgery techniques
Brazilian team of researchers reforms facial features and adds hair to create new 3D-image from remains found near West Bank city 70 years ago
Brazilian researchers have rendered a new face for a 9,000-year-old skull unearthed in 1953 near the West Bank city of Jericho.
The man’s skull, partly covered by plaster and with shells for eyes, was one of seven discovered by archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon. All are believed to have served as part of a Neolithic ritual relating to ancestor worship.
In 2016, the British Museum used micro-computed tomography, or micro-CT, to scan the skull and produce a 3D-printed reproduction of the original cranium and a reconstruction of the person’s face for an exhibition. Other skulls are on display in the UK, Canada, and Jordan, and at the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem.
In December, the Brazilian team published a newly detailed 3D face, with artistically rendered head hair and facial hair.
To construct a new face, researchers used anatomical deformation and statistical projections based on the micro-CT scans — techniques used to plan plastic surgeries and build prosthetics.
Brazilian graphics expert Cicero Moraes, who led the project, told the Live Science website that the method provides “greater structural, anatomical, and statistical coherence.”
“I wouldn’t say ours is an update, it’s just a different approach,” to the British Museum’s model, he said.
Moraes worked alongside Thiago Beaini, a dental surgeon and assistant professor at Brazil’s Federal University of Uberlândia, and Moacir Elias Santos, an archeologist at the Museum of Archeology in Ponta Grossa.
Archeologists have determined that the man likely died in his 30s or 40s, due to the way a lesion on the skull healed.
Moraes said that the skull is unusual because its upper section is larger than average.
The head, like others found in the area, appeared to have been artificially stretched, likely by being tightly bound during the man’s youth. The reason for this practice remains unknown.
Also last month, Egyptian and British scientists used CT software to create new detailed images of the ancient ruler Ramses II.
Scientists used earlier CT scans of the pharaoh’s mummy and applied to them analysis software to parse out details. Experts were then able to differentiate between the skull and other materials used during the embalming process and produce 3D images of the skull. The face was then reconstructed using Egyptian measurements of facial muscle layers.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.