Jan 22, 2018 | By Tess

An interdisciplinary team of medical and archeological specialists recently collaborated to reconstruct the face of a teenage girl who lived roughly 9,000 years ago. The reconstruction, which relied on 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies, suggests that teens from the period looked quite different to teenagers nowadays.

In 1993, the skull of a girl was uncovered in the Theopetra cave in Greece—a location that has provided archaeologists with many insights into how humans lived up to 130,000 years ago. The skull in question is said to date back at least 9,000 years and is believed to have belonged to a girl of about 15 to 18 years of age. (The scientists have named her Avgi, which means Dawn in English.)

Though the skull has not provided many answers as to Avgi’s lifestyle or the cause of her early death, researchers have put the fossil to good use by recreating what the young woman would have looked like.

The recreation process consisted of a number of steps and required input from various professionals, including an endocrinologist, orthopedist, neurologist, pathologist, and radiologist. Orthondist Manolis Papagrigorakis led the effort in partnership with Oscar Nilsson, a Swedish archeologist and sculptor who specializes in reproducing the faces and facial features of ancient humans.

The first step in revealing Avgi’s face was to capture a CT scan of the skull. After an in depth analysis of the skull, the researchers were able to estimate the girl’s skin thickness at varying parts of her face and determine what her features would have looked like. The collaborative team added to the digital skull model gradually, building the face up layer-by-layer.

The Theopetra cave in Greece

During the process, the researchers also uncovered what seemed to be conflicting information about the girl’s age. While the bones seemed to belong to a girl of about 15 years of age, the teeth suggested that she was slightly older, maybe 18-years-old.

Finally, when the model of Avgi’s face was complete, the team used a 3D printer to produce a physical copy of the skull. Final elements, such as the girl’s features, were selected based on what would have been most common in the region at the time.

The resulting 3D printed model reveals some interesting things about what a teenage girl might have looked like 9,000 years ago. Some of Avgi’s features, such as her heavy brow and large jaw, indicate that people of the time may have had stronger, more masculine features than people nowadays.

“Avgi has very unique, not especially female, skull, and features,” explained Nilsson. “Having reconstructed a lot of Stone Age women and men, I think some facial features seem to have disappeared or ‘smoothed out’ with time. In general, we look less masculine, both men and women, today.”

To contextualize, Avgi was living in a time when humans were just beginning to settle in Greece and were turning increasingly to agriculture rather than foraging for sustenance. This shift in lifestyle could be part of the reason why Avgi’s features are so different from people’s softer faces today.

The 3D printed reconstructed face was recently presented at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece.

This is not the first time 3D scanning and 3D printing have been used to reproduce ancient likenesses. Last summer, scientists in Peru used the technology to reconstruct the face of the Lady of Cao, an ancient female leader who lived over 1,700 years ago. 3D printing was also used to reproduce the face of a 2,000-year-old mummy from Ancient Egypt.

 

 

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Kim Cox wrote at 1/24/2018 6:27:06 AM:

I thought it was Heath Ledger. !

Isaac wrote at 1/23/2018 2:51:41 PM:

Ellen Ripley? is that you?

Richard wrote at 1/23/2018 12:30:58 PM:

My first thought upon seeing this face is that this is a face that could walk down the street almost anywhere in the U.S. and not draw a second glance. “Very different”? Hardly. The 3D reconstruction is something amazing. It’s amazing to see how 3D printing of a scull can be the basis of recreating such a realistic visage.



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