Like living: renovation of appearance

Tutankhamon, Cleopatra, Shakespeare, Nikolay Miracle, Jesus Christ: Today we will tell you how scientists manage to restore the appearance of famous people who lived in the distant past, if only mummies and skulls remained from them, and in some cases, even the graves remained.


The method of restoring the appearance of a person in his skull invented Russian anthropologist Mikhail Gerasimov (1907-1970). He grew up in the doctor’s family, worked from adolescence in an anatomical museum and spent a lot of time in the morgue, studying the links of soft fabrics of the face and bones of the skull. Since 14, Gerasimov has participated in the excavations of ancient graves. On the basis of observations and experience, he concluded that the thickness, view and relief of the skin on the skull and the skeleton are directly dependent on the relief of bones and their structure. So the method of restoring a person on a skull was born, which the anthropologists of different countries still enjoy. Gerasimov created more than 200 sculptural portraits of reconstructions of historical personalities and ancient people, including Yaroslav Wise, Ivan the Terrible, Andrei Bogolyubsky and Ivan the Terrible. On June 22, 1941, his expedition opened Tamerlan’s grave, after which a long study began. Superval people consider this fact by the barbaria and the cause of the Great Patriotic War, but Gerasimov himself saw in this good luck, and the reconstruction of the image of Tamerlana himself considered his best work.

According to the method of Gerasimov, today’s anthropologists work: they take the skull and the layer behind the layer are covered with soft fabrics, focusing on the bone relief. Some still do it manually, but most prefer computer technologies that allow you to get a spectacular 3D model.


In the mass consciousness and cinema Cleopatra – a beautiful European-like woman. However, the Egyptologist from Cambridge University Sally Anne Ashton claims that by the time of coming to power, the Cleopatra family lived in Egypt for 300 years, and therefore Egyptian and Greek blood was mixed in it and the skin shade was dark. His image of Cleopatra Ashton created in 2008 after a serious study that lasted more than a year. The basis for three-dimensional reconstruction was the preserved ancients of the Egyptian Queen and the analysis of its pedigree. The image obtained using a computer, a dark-friendly friendly woman, not too knives with the image of the fatal beauty, which was beloved Julia Caesar and Mark Anthony.

Nikolay Wonderwork

Scottish Anthropologist Caroline Wilkinson, Professor of the University of Dundee, recreated the appearance of St. Nicholas, who is revered in Russia as Nicholas Wonderworker, and in the West is considered the prototype of Santa Claus.

The basis for 3D modeling was the results of the survey of the relics, which are stored in the Basilica of St. Nicholas in the Italian city of Bari. In 1953, Professor Luigi Martino, who was opened by the relics, made black and white photographs of the skull, as well as the X-ray of the skull in the face and to the profile. Features of the bones helped Wilkinson to restore the shape of the face, the teeth suggested the lips shape, and the orphans -. Details were completed by specialists in schedule: they put on a three-dimensional image of the skin structure, and also supplemented the model with wrinkles, hair and beard.

However, not all Christians were satisfied with the results – many considered the image is not so lightweight, as they are accustomed to see the saint on the icon. Russian artists created a more penetrated image of Nicholas the Wonderworker, based on the iconographic face of the Holy and Modern Technologies.


Last fall, the world struck the publication of the three-dimensional image of Tutankhamon, created by the team of scientists who investigated his tomb. The first portrait of the Egyptian pharaoh in full growth is based on the analysis of the anatomical features of the mummy – about 2,000 scans of the remaining remains were made.

The resulting image was surprisingly ugly and distant from the majestic image, which was captured in the funeral gold mask of Pharaoh, which is kept in the collection of the Cairo Museum. Modified on the computer Tutankhamon is depicted chromonogide female young men with protruding teeth, improper bite, wide hips and narrow shoulders.

William Shakespeare

Shakespires still can not come together, as the famous English playwright actually looked: all portraits and busts of the classics were made after his death. Many are accepted for a genuine image of Shakespeare a posthumous mask found in 1849 in Germany. German criminologists recently confirmed that she belongs to Shakespeare, as it coincides with other images, in particular with a bust established on the grave of the playwright by his relatives. It was this posthumous mask that became the basis for the reconstruction of British professionals led by Stewart Clark: In 2010, they recreated 3D-model of the face of Shakespeare specifically for the film "Posthumous Masks" on the History Channel Channel 13. However, Shakespires refused to recognize the results of the reconstruction with reliable, as they do not have complete confidence that Darmstadt mask really was removed from Shakespeare’s face.

Richard III

In 2012, a skeleton of the legendary English king Richard III, who died in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, was found in the parking lot in the lesser, which was previously thought that his body was dropped into the suar river and forever lost. This find served as the beginning of a global study that included the analysis of DNA of the remains and the living descendants of the king. One of the results was the reconstruction of the appearance of Richard III, which is especially important because the lifetime images are not preserved.

The same researcher was engaged in restoring the appearance as in the case of the Holy Nikolai – Caroline Wilkinson: This time she was repelled from these genetic examination and the form of the king skull. The image turned out to look like portraits written after the monarch’s death, including the earliest option – a portrait of Richard III from the collection of Society of Antiquarka London, created in the 1520s.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Like live reconstruction of appearance

Another job Wilkinson – reconstruction of the appearance of the composer Johanna Sebastian Bach. This work, made as a result of a thorough analysis of the remains of Baha in 2008, caused a lot of criticism, as the image turned out to be unlike well-known portraits and busts of the composer. However, a copy was exhibited in the Baha Museum in the German city of Aizenach and recognized by the number of experts. Wilkinson’s work process can be viewed on video.


In 2007, researchers from Universities Bologna and Pisa restored the appearance of the author of the "Divine Comedy" Dante Aligiery. The portrait was based on detailed descriptions and a gypsum cast, made by the Italian anthropologist Fabio Frassetto during the last opening of the grave of the poet in 1921. Especially difficult was the restoration of the chin form, since the jaw at the preserved Dante skull was absent and the appropriate scientists were picked up in the Frasretto collections, examining 90 skulls from the Anthropology Museum. As a result, the newest Dante turned out to be more humane and soft than it is presented in posthumous images created under the memoirs of contemporaries. His characteristic eagle nose became noticeable shorter.


Perhaps the most expressive from a visual point of view is the work of the French studio VisualForensic. The image of the revolutionar Maximilian Robespierre – the result of 3D reconstruction based on a posthumous mask made by Madame Tussao. Not only specialists in computer graphics, but also anthropologists, and pathologists, and criminalists who investigate real crimes involved in the creation of the image. One of the creators of the portrait French anthropologist and a specialist in the facial reconstruction, Philip Fossim commented on his work like this: "There is no doubt that we see fear in his eyes. High reliability and clarity of reconstruction has become possible thanks to a 3D scanner. That is what allowed us to restore the details of the display mask, which uses the FBI ".

Jesus Christ

The question of the appearance of Jesus Christ Blaries the minds of people already 2000. Since the real remains and DNA samples are not preserved, anthropologists are looking for alternative ways to recreate its appearance. For example, an artist-criminalist from Manchester University Richard Niv in the image of Christ was based on archaeological data and biblical sources. In the Gospel of Matthew, he found a confirmation that the features of the face of Jesus were characteristic of seven of Galilee of that time. Israeli archaeologists were able to provide Niva several skulls of Jews – contemporaries of Christ, three of them were made of computed tomography. Based on this data, researchers have created a three-dimensional digital reconstruction of the person, and then the skull pattern.

Niv analyzed all the available descriptions of Jesus from biblical sources and drawings of the I century found by archaeologists. So the questions about the color of the eyes, the length of the hair, the skin, the growth of the skin, the growth and physique of Christ. The portrait, simulated by programmers based on Niva data in 2002, turned out to be straightened not similar to the famous images of Jesus and caused a perturbation from believers. In response, Niv stated that he had recreated only the appearance of an adult man who lived in one place and at one time with Jesus.

Another source for the reconstruction of the appearance of Christ is the Turin District. It is believed that this Christian relic, which is stored in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, captured a genuine Savior Lick. According to beliefs, the body of Jesus was wrapped in this cloth after transferred tortures and death. The first attempt to create a 3D reconstruction based on the shrine from the shroud was undertaken by the American John Jackson in 1976: he analyzed the face on the canvas using a microstensitometer (the device that measures the degree of darkening of the image) and then reconstructed the three-dimensional body shape using computer programs for treating aerial photographs.

In 2010, to recreate the appearance of Christ on the ship by the American artists from Studio Macbeth for the documentary "Real Face of Jesus" on the Channel of The History Channel. Using modern 3D technologies, specialists led by Raem Downing transformed an image obtained from the gaze, from two-dimensional in three-dimensional. It also turned out to be unlike the canonical images of Christ. This was the reason for indigning many, as the very fact of use for the reconstruction of the print from the Turin Durn, in the authenticity of which many doubt.

Like live reconstruction of appearance

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