Using the latest techniques, a group of Belgian and Dutch scientists managed to reconstruct the faces of a man and two children from Roman times.
The result can be seen at the Gallo-Roman Museum in Tongeren from May. According to the museum, this is the first time in Belgium that it is possible to make visible the faces of certain people of the Roman era.
This was done with three skeletons found in 2013 in a Roman cemetery in Tongeren. Two children and an adult male were buried together in one of the graves.
Brother and sister
DNA tests have shown that the children are siblings to each other. The man is not related, he may be the stepfather because the girl in the grave kept her hands clasped around her leg.
Based on the 14C dating, among others, the burial field could be dated to the first decades of our era, relatively soon after the founding of Tongeren around 10 BC. The well-preserved cranial remains make it possible to reconstruct the faces of the man and the two children using the most modern techniques.
Researcher Henk van der Velde from the Flemish Heritage Center talks about a groundbreaking study. The man was probably between 40 and 50 years old, the girl about three years old and the boy about six years old. We don’t know why they died. The DNA test revealed the color of the eyes, skin and hair. Due to the integrity of the skulls, the faces could also be copied.
To reconstruct these faces, the specialists first carried out a 3D printing of the skulls. Then they indicated the fabric thicknesses. Then they placed the facial muscles, skin, and fat layer in clay. Copies of these base faces were made from silicone rubber. These have been personalized based on the DNA test results (skin color, hair color and eye color.
Finally, other details follow which are deduced from the historical context, but which are in a sense hypothetical. For example, the man had a lot of wrinkles because researchers assume he led a life that largely took place outside the home.
The full investigation is to be completed by September. From May 1, the reconstructed faces are visible in the room of the Gallo-Roman museum in Tongeren.