Posted: Dec 5, 2021 02:37 GMT
The woman’s remains were found in 2014 at the archaeological site of La Almoloya, in southeastern Spain, buried in a large ceramic jug along with a silver diadem and other objects of great value.
A “powerful, perhaps even terrifying” woman, buried in the mid-17th century BC. With a silver diadem in what was probably an ancient palace in Bronze Age Spain recently got a reconstructed face showing her with a serene expression and huge hoop earrings.
Using the partial skull and burial jewels found in the La Almoloya archaeological site (Murcia), whose discovery was announced last March, the scientific illustrator Joana Bruno digitally recreated the woman’s face, as well as those of others buried in the place. “The biggest challenge of this facial reconstruction was that the upper part of her skull did not survive the years,” the artist, who collaborated with specialists from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, explained this week to Live Science. “Luckily the headband was found in place, around her head, so that gives us some measurement of her head, but still it was a challenge“he added.
The woman’s identity has intrigued scientists since archaeologists found her remains, along with those of another man, in a large ceramic jug in 2014. Its luxurious funerary equipment, which includes bracelets, rings and a special type of crown, similar to a diadem, among other objects, it is of superior quality and it has more value than the goods buried with the male, as previously explained by the researchers. Perhaps these riches indicate that the woman was more powerful than her burial partner, especially considering that she died at an older age than he and was buried with valuable goods.
Bruno explained that the fact that he decided to digitally recreate the woman’s face was due in part to the impressive preservation of many of the original inhabitants of the place. “The Almoloya is a fascinating time capsule,” he said. “And since DNA can tell us more about their parentage, it is also a opportunity to see if these faces have similar features in any way that could hint at those shared relationships, “he said.
How was the face rebuilt?
Before carrying out any virtual reconstruction, anthropologists clean, stabilize, and study the skeleton of the deceased to determine the person’s sex, age of death, general health, and other characteristics. “This information is always taken into account when reconstructing the face,” said Bruno. In the case of that woman from the Argaric civilization, died between the ages of 25 and 30 and had several congenital conditions, such as the lack of a neck vertebra and a rib.
Then the artist took specific measurements of the skull and performed a laser scan of the skull and lower jaw. “The laser scanner allows me to work with a digital replica of the original and minimize manipulation of the bones, which are fragile objects,” he explained.
The scientific illustrator then estimated the position of facial features, such as the eyes, nose, and mouth, and determined the thickness of the tissues. “By doing this, I start to ‘map’ the surface of the skin and, layer by layer, a face starts to emerge,” he said, noting, which, however, had to do some guesswork. To indicate which bones did not survive, Bruno depicted them in gray and transparent in a video showing the reconstruction process.
“These bones that we now see were real people”
The entire process and Bruno’s collaboration with anthropologists highlights “the ability to estimate and ‘reconstruct’ the missing parts of the skeleton with the greatest possible precision and without damaging the original,” Cristina Rihuete Herrada, professor, stressed to Live Science. of Archeology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, which participates in the research. “Thanks to the 3D laser scanning of the jewels, Joana has been able to show us the impressive brightness of that woman“he added.
Currently, the artist is creating archaeological reconstructions of other people from La Almoloya and El Argar, an archaeological site in the neighboring province of Almería. “It is important to be aware that these bones that we now see were real people, with their own domestic dramas, that they laughed when someone told a joke, that they took care of their loved ones and that they lived in a world very different from ours, “he concluded.
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