Revolutionary Technology Digitally Reconstructs Faces of Ancient Skulls Found in Scotland

Visitors to the Perth Museum in Scotland can now explore realistic projections of historical faces brought back to life through forensic reconstruction and advanced archaeological analysis.

The Perth Museum collaborated with Chris Rynn, a craniological anthropologist, and researchers Marc Oxenham and Rebecca Crozier from the University of Aberdeen on a revolutionary project. Using the museum's collection, the scientists examined and utilized Scottish skulls from the Bronze Age, approximately 4,200 years ago, to those dated to the 14th century. In an exhibit featuring their results, visitors are welcomed with lifelike models, digitally reconstructed from the forensic information gathered. The figures dynamically change their facial expressions, bringing these ancient beings to life.

Ahead of the museum’s opening on March 30, 2024, remarkable digital facial reconstructions made from the remains of three people were shared—a 40-year-old Bronze Age woman from Lochlands Farm, a male in his 40s found in Bridge of Tilt, and a young adult male found in Perth. Beyond detailed observations of the individuals' physical features, the museum also shared circumstances surrounding the discovery of their remains: when they were found, accompanying objects, and possible reasons for their burial based on the state of their skeleton upon excavation.

Along with this display, the museum offers a valuable educational opportunity regarding Scotland's cultural heritage by providing a rich historical context and the cultural significance of each individual.

One of the reconstructed individuals was a man found in Blair Atholl. He is estimated to have lived in the 5th or 6th century and is believed to be Pictish—an individual from eastern and northern Scotland. According to the museum, he was discovered in the 1980s during construction. His coffin bore a hand-grinding stone symbol, indicating strong ties to agriculture. The museum's efforts also detail his supposed diet and migration, symbolizing Scotland's early societal and cultural connections.

The Perth Museum comprehensively explores the intricate process of creating ancient facial reconstructions. Through a step-by-step presentation, the museum emphasizes the restoration of skulls, the application of advanced digital modeling techniques, and the sculpture method used to transform the skulls into lifelike representations. Moreover, the museum also invites visitors to actively interact with the exhibit by adjusting the models' physical appearance and attempting forensic reconstruction on their own.

By offering an immersive look into Scottish heritage, the Perth Museum's ancient forensic reconstruction exhibit deepens visitors' appreciation and understanding of the region's rich historical narratives and how technology can enable us to connect with our past.

The Perth Museum in Scotland displays realistic reconstructions of ancient faces through forensic analysis.

By providing an immersive, interactive experience for visitors, the museum aims to share the historical narratives of the people who have lived in Perth.

Perth Museum: Website | Instagram | Facebook

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Shiori Chen

Shiori Chen is an Editorial Intern at My Modern Met. Located in the Bay Area, she runs a youth art magazine and contributes as a staff writer for a local online media outlet, focusing on news and journalism. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys painting, watching films, and teaching herself how to play instruments.
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