Weird History

Groundbreaking CGI Shows What Historical Figures Actually Looked Like 

Stephan Roget
Updated May 22, 2020 6.2M views 16 items

Many a Social Studies teacher has promised to “bring history to life,” but the art of 3D facial reconstruction actually pulls it off by showing the people of today what famous figures looked like when they were still among the living. The technique, more properly referred to as a component of forensic anthropology, has helped modern historians, professional and amateur alike, finally come face-to-face with some of the most important individuals in human history.

Forensic facial reconstruction isn’t easy, especially when it’s being performed on people that have been gone for centuries. Originally used to help identify extremely decayed human remains for the purposes of criminal investigation, facial reconstruction has advanced far enough that it can be used for more academic pursuits. Although some historical figures had plaster “death masks” made that provide an easy starting point for modern scientists, facial reconstruction usually involves using the human skull as a base, and extrapolating outward from there to map out probable soft tissue placement until a discernable face appears. The technique relies on natural marks on the skull that indicate approximate soft tissue depth, telling reconstructors how much tissue to layer on. In the days before computers, facial reconstructions were done painstakingly by hand, but new technology has made the process much more efficient and accurate. It’s not a perfect process, but it’s as close as any modern person is going to get to looking King Tut in the face.

Henry VII of England is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Groundbreaking CGI Shows What Historical Figures Actually Looked Like
Photo:  @my_colorful_past/Instagram

Henry VII (Welsh: Harri Tudur; 28 January 1457 – 21 April 1509) was the King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizure of the crown on 22 August 1485 to his death. He was the first monarch of the House of Tudor. Henry attained the throne when his forces defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the culmination of the Wars of the Roses. He was the last king of England to win his throne on the field of battle. He cemented his claim by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Richard's brother Edward IV. Henry was successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the civil war. His supportive stance of the British Isles' wool industry and his ...more on Wikipedia

Age: Dec. at 52 (1457-1509)

Birthplace: Pembroke Castle, Pembroke, United Kingdom

Tutankhamun
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Tutankhamun (Ancient Egyptian: twt ꜥnḫ ı͗mn) () also known by the Egyptological pronunciation Tutankhamen (British ), reconstructed /taˈwaːt ˈʕaːnxu ʔaˈmaːn/ (MK), (c. 1341 – c. 1323 BC) was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (ruled c. 1332 – 1323 BC in the conventional chronology), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. He has, since the discovery of his intact tomb, been referred to colloquially as King Tut. The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter of Tutankhamun's nearly intact tomb, funded by Lord Carnarvon, received worldwide press coverage. It sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun's mask, now in the Egyptian Museum, ...more on Wikipedia

Birthplace: Ancient Egypt

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Nero (; Latin: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December 37 – 9 June 68 AD) was the last Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius and became Claudius' heir and successor. Like Claudius, Nero became emperor with the consent of the Praetorian Guard. Nero's mother, Agrippina the Younger, was likely implicated in Claudius' death and Nero's nomination as emperor. She dominated Nero's early life and decisions until he cast her off. Five years into his reign, he had her murdered.During the early years of his reign, Nero was content to be guided by his mother, his tutor Lucius Annaeus Seneca, and his Praetorian prefect Sextus Afranius ...more on Wikipedia

Age: Dec. at 31 (37-68)

Birthplace: Anzio, Italy

Profession: Roman emperor

Anthony of Padua is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Groundbreaking CGI Shows What Historical Figures Actually Looked Like
Photo: Cicero Moraes/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

Saint Anthony of Padua (Portuguese: Santo António de Pádua), born Fernando Martins de Bulhões (15 August 1195 – 13 June 1231) – also known as Saint Anthony of Lisbon (Portuguese: Santo António de Lisboa) – was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised by a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, and died in Padua, Italy. Noted by his contemporaries for his powerful preaching, expert knowledge of scripture, and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick, he was one of the most quickly canonized saints in church history. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 16 January 1946. He is also the patron saint of lost things. ...more on Wikipedia

Age: Dec. at 36 (1195-1231)

Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal

Profession: Physician