Weird History
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Groundbreaking CGI Shows What Historical Figures Actually Looked Like

Updated February 24, 2021 6.4m views20 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.

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  • Tutankhamun

    Tutankhamun
    Video: YouTube
    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
    • Birthplace: Ancient Egypt
  • Frédéric François Chopin (, also UK: , US: , French: [ʃɔpɛ̃], Polish: [ˈʂɔpɛn]; 1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation."Chopin was born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin in the Duchy of Warsaw and grew up in Warsaw, which in 1815 became part of Congress Poland. A child prodigy, he completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20, less than a month before the outbreak of the...  more
    • Age: Dec. at 39 (1810-1849)
    • Birthplace: Żelazowa Wola, Poland
    • Profession: Pianist, Composer
  • Roman Emperor Nero
    Video: YouTube
    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
    • Age: Dec. at 31 (37-68)
    • Birthplace: Anzio, Italy
    • Profession: Roman emperor
  • Franz Peter Schubert (German: [ˈfʁant͡s ˈpeːtɐ ˈʃuːbɐt]; 31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite his short lifetime, Schubert left behind a vast oeuvre, including more than 600 secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of piano and chamber music. His major works include the Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667 (Trout Quintet), the Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 (Unfinished Symphony), the three last piano sonatas (D. 958–960), the opera Fierrabras (D. 796), the incidental music to the play Rosamunde (D. 797), and the song cycles Die schöne...  more
    • Age: Dec. at 31 (1797-1828)
    • Birthplace: Alsergrund, Vienna, Austria
    • Profession: Film Score Composer, Pianist, Composer, Violist, Teacher