Weird History Groundbreaking CGI Programing Shows What Historical Figures Actually Looked Like  

Stephan Roget
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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 dead 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.


Tutankhamun is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Groundbreaking CGI Programing Shows What Historical Figures Actually Looked Like
Photo:  BBC One

Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. He is popularly referred to as King Tut. His original name, Tutankhaten, means "Living Image of Aten", while Tutankhamun means "Living Image of Amun". In hieroglyphs, the name ...more

Birthplace: Ancient Egypt

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Anthony of Padua is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Groundbreaking CGI Programing Shows What Historical Figures Actually Looked Like
Photo:  Wikimedia Commons

Saint Anthony of Padua, O.F.M., also known as Anthony of Lisbon, was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised by a wealthy family in Lisbon and died in Padua, Italy. Noted by his contemporaries for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of ...more

Age: Died at 36 (1195-1231)

Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal

Profession: Physician

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Robert the Bruce is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Groundbreaking CGI Programing Shows What Historical Figures Actually Looked Like
Photo:  Face Lab/Liverpool John Moores University

Robert I, popularly known as Robert the Bruce, was King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329. Robert was one of the most famous warriors of his generation, and eventually led Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England. He fought successfully during his reign to regain ...more

Age: Died at 55 (1274-1329)

Birthplace: Turnberry Castle

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Nicolaus Copernicus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Groundbreaking CGI Programing Shows What Historical Figures Actually Looked Like
Photo:  Central Forensic Laboratory of the Polish Police

Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at its center. The publication of this model in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium just before his death in 1543 is considered a major event ...more

Age: Died at 70 (1473-1543)

Birthplace: Toruń, Poland

Profession: Mathematician, Diplomat, Physician, Economist, Artist, + more

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