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A woman between 50 and 60: researchers reconstructed the face of an ancient Egyptian mummy found in an Australian school

Anna BoklajukNews
The final sculpture is finished with bronze-colored resin, which, according to forensic experts, is better than guessing a skin tone. Source: futureplc.com (Image credit: Jennifer Mann).

Thanks to a thorough scientific reconstruction, an ancient Egyptian mummified head on display in a school library in Australia now has a new face. Scans and analysis by universities in Australia and Italy have shown that the head is a woman's one who was between 50 and 60 at the time of her death.

The mummy was found in an Australian school. The forensic reconstruction of the face is based on accurate three-dimensional models of the skull created using medical scans, LiveScience writes.

The ancient object is a bit of a mystery as it is unclear how it got to Grafton High School in northern New South Wales, about 480 kilometers north of Sydney. But now it will be displayed alongside 3D-printed sculptures created from medical scans and forensic techniques to show the reconstruction process and what the woman looked like when she was alive.

"This takes the emphasis off the human remains. And that's very important because museums are increasingly reluctant to display ancient human remains," Jennifer Mann, a forensic sculptor at the Victorian Forensic Institute (VFIM) in Melbourne who created the reconstruction, told Live Science.

For this latest reconstruction, researchers scanned the ancient skull using computed tomography (CT) to create a digital model of the skull, which was then printed on 3D polymer resin so Mann could create a realistic reconstruction.

A woman between 50 and 60: researchers reconstructed the face of an ancient Egyptian mummy found in an Australian school

An examination showed that the head was a woman's one who was between 50 and 60 at the time of her death. Gold spots attached to the mummified head indicate that she lived during the Greco-Roman period in Egypt (332 BC - 395 AD) when gold leaf was used in the mummification process.

A woman between 50 and 60: researchers reconstructed the face of an ancient Egyptian mummy found in an Australian school

When Mann received the 3D-printed skull, she added eyes and markers to show the depth of the tissue, which were based on ultrasound measurements of modern Egyptians. She then created musculature around the markers and used formulas to estimate soft tissue characteristics that can be determined from the size of the skull. "For example, the nose was reconstructed from the angles of the bone around the nasal opening in the skull and careful measurements of the opening itself," Mann said. The mouth on this skull was severely damaged, so the sculptor determined its structure in consultation with a dental specialist at the VFIM.

The next step was to create the skin around the eyes and over the muscles. Jennifer then completed the reconstruction with hair and earrings from the Greco-Roman period of Egypt based on portraits of the Fayum mummies.

A woman between 50 and 60: researchers reconstructed the face of an ancient Egyptian mummy found in an Australian school

The final sculpture is finished with bronze-colored resin, which Mann says is better than guessing skin tone since people with Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and other ancestors lived in Egypt at the time.

A woman between 50 and 60: researchers reconstructed the face of an ancient Egyptian mummy found in an Australian school

"Now I prefer to finish it as a bronze sculpture so that people can appreciate the facial features. This is a conscious choice because there is no scientific evidence [of recovered DNA in this case] for things like skin tone and eye color," she said.

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