Reconstructed face of Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus
Do you ever have trouble with ancient or medieval history because you can’t match a face to a famous name? Even when sculpted or painted portraits exist, they may be idealized (or demonized) versions of the person’s actual appearance. Cutting-edge science is helping to fill in some visual blanks. Facial reconstruction specialists use skills in anthropology, anatomy, art, and computerized imaging to truly put flesh on bones and re-create long-forgotten faces.
Simon of Sudbury’s face is a new addition to history’s portrait gallery. Who, you say? Although not a familiar figure, Simon was Lord Chancellor and Archbishop of Canterbury in the decades after the Black Death ravaged England. He unwisely supported a tax that the common people hated. During the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, Simon took refuge from an angry crowd in the Tower of London. But the mob stormed the Tower, grabbed Simon, dragged him out, and chopped off his head. His skull was kept in a church for centuries, so it was available to a graduate student at Scotland’s University of Dundee, who proceeded to reconstruct his face—gloomy expression and all.
When facial reconstruction was first pioneered, all the work had to be done by hand, using plaster and clay. Today, computer programs do the heavy lifting. One computer program, called E-FIT for Electronic Facial Identification Technique, doesn’t use a skull at all. Instead, it helps produce composite images of wanted criminals based on eyewitnesses’ descriptions. Another University of Dundee forensic anthropologist has used a written prison record to create a face for a suspect in the worst unsolved murders in modern times—the Jack the Ripper killings. See his face at the BBC link listed below.
Image credit: © Czarek Sokolowski/ASSOCIATED PRESS
- Face of Simon of Sudbury Revealed by Forensic Artist
Learn more about Simon of Sudbury and how Adrienne Barker reconstructed his medieval face.
(Source: BBC News, September 13, 2011)
- The Facial Reconstruction of Simon of Sudbury
View each step in the reconstruction, from skull assessment to the final layers.
(Source: Adrienne Barker; accessed September 30, 2011)
- Forensic Facial Reconstruction
Read about the history and methods of facial reconstruction and see what Ivan the Terrible may have looked like.
(Source: Wikipedia.com; accessed September 30, 2011)
- Is This the Face of Jack the Ripper?
Was Carl Feigenbaum Jack the Ripper, and did he look like this? Find out why the German merchant is a likely suspect.
(Source: BBC News, August 30, 2011)
- Investigating King Tutankhamun
Get a 3D view of what King Tut may have looked like.
(Source: National Geographic, June 2005)
- The Peasants’ Revolt
This site provides background information on the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt.
(Source: Britannia.com; accessed September 30, 2011)
He has a big nose! 🙂 but this is so cool the technology that we have now!
i 🙂 haha
do not make fun have him :@
lol i kno rite its all jacked up
i dont understand this it donsent have alot of info that tells us how technology works know this is my comment
ummmm do i want to see dead people?????????
i dont understand this due too not to much info to tell us how this really works this is my comments thank you
that is so cool
is that what we are going it see what older people in the future
this is creappy! lol
alsome lol his nose is big good story
I can’t wait until we see more historical figures (MARIE ANTOINETTE GOOOOO!)
when i read this it was wierd to me , i don’t like much
bro nose big lol but good story doe
ummm i really dont wanna see dead people’s face. ewwwwwwwwwwwww
me too kinda
I THINK HE IS TOOO OLD FOR THE SPOTLIGHT AND HE HAS A HUGE NOSE THE SIZE OF SOME KID NOSE
kinda creepy but kinda cool
This is how I picture Ebenezer Scrooge.
That is sooo cool and strange at the same time… I wonder what I would look like old… and dead!
HUGE NOSE!!!!! geez who is Ebenezer Scrooge?
Ebenezer Scrooge is JUST the main character in a famous story.
That is very amazing!! But the guys nose is pretty creepy
This is very amazing!! But the guys nose is very creepin me out!!
This is amazing!!!
Hey, you used to write fantastic, but the last few posts have been kinda bonrig… I miss your super writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on! In politics stupidity is not a handicap. by Napoleon Bonaparte.
thats so funny:) :0 🙂 :0 🙂
i dont know about you, but i want people to see me in 100 years:)
technology is aswesome
I feel that their idea for making thosee faces reappear as what they really are was a very constructive idea and more people should think of that instead of showing us lies.
awesome article dude!!!!
WHY IS HIS NOSE SO BIG AND RED HE LOOKS RELY ANGRI
BIG RED NOSE RUDOLPH!
THIS IZ SOOOOOOO COOL
RED NOSE RUDOLPH
I like Broccoli alotttttt!!!!!!!!
Duuudddeee! Noo wayyyy!! That is so totally rad broski!!!