A 4,000-year-old skull found in a stone-lined grave deep in the forests of Sweden has helped reconstruct the face of a Stone Age woman.
The reconstruction was recently crafted by Oscar Nilsson, an archeologist known for using forensic technology to bring ancient faces back to life using the subtle curvatures and contour found on their skull.
His reconstruction is based on a 3D model of a skull found in the early 1920s in Västernorrland, western Sweden. During the construction of a road, archeologists found a stone coffin containing two 4,000-year-old skeletons: one that once belonged to a woman in her mid-twenties, and a seven-year-old boy.
It’s thought the pair were mother and son, or perhaps sister and brother – but little can truly be known about their relationship, or their mysterious deaths.
Few other graves like this have ever been unearthed in this part of Sweden, so the uniqueness of the burial inspired archeologists to piece together how these people once looked. Unfortunately, the boy's skull was in too bad of a condition to be recreated – but the woman’s remained remarkably intact.
To understand her jaw and mouth shape, the teeth were closely studied. There was also a ligament attachment in the eye socket, giving an indication of the inclination of the eye and how deep the eyes were.
However, many of these features are up to interpretation because facial features are also dictated by muscle and fat, which obviously haven't fared well under 4,000 years of harsh Swedish weather. To build up the shape of the face, Nilsson mapped the model skull using pegs to indicate tissue depth and then painstakingly applied layer upon layer of materials to recreate the appearance of muscle.
The artist was forced to guess the hair, skin, and eye color because the DNA was too degraded to make an accurate judgment.
Clothes are also an interpretation since they were made from organic material that has degraded over time. Nevertheless, the researchers do have a good idea of what people wore around this time thanks to other archeological discoveries. Based on technology and materials available in the Stone Age, tanner and craftsman Helena Gjaerum created all of the woman’s clothes and accessories from scratch.
If you wish to see this Stone Age lady with your own eyes, the reconstruction was put on display at Västernorrland's museum in Sweden for the public to gaze at earlier this year, together with buckets of information about how Nilsson and Gjaerum created this impressive work.