Meet Tora, a Norwegian Woman Who Lived 800 Years Ago

Scientists have unearthed the skeletal remains of a woman living in Norway 800 years ago. Thanks to modern technology and 3D modeling, in particular, they were able to create a realistic representation of the woman’s face and body. Meet Tora, as scientists have named the life-size 3D model of the grinning woman holding a walking stick. She looks stunningly similar to today’s senior citizens.

How the Skeleton of Tora Was Found

Meet Tora, a Norwegian Woman Who Lived 800 Years Ago

The incredible 3D model was presented by an archeologist at the NTNU University Museum (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). According to scientists, the discovered skeleton was of a woman who lived at the end of the 1200s. Tora lived in Trondheim, a city in central Norway. During that time, the metropolis was rapidly expanding and was primarily inhabited by traders and craftspeople.

There are no written records about Tora or her life. So, archaeologists decided to piece together the story by themselves, using clues from her skeleton and where they found it. Ellen Grav, the scientist who presented the realistic model of the individual, said the remains were unearthed near a churchyard close to the merchants’ street. For this reason, some experts believe she may have lived in a merchant’s family. Scientists have expressed their opinion that, at the time, people buried in churchyards were affluent.

The woman was about 65 when she died. That is considered quite old for the period. This further points to her leading a better-than-usual lifestyle. Experts discovered that she had a spinal deformity and had been walking hunched over, probably. The skeletal remains had no lower teeth, and scientists found that she had been living without them for a period prior to her death. Some have suggested that her missing teeth and spinal deformity are likely associated with leading a life of hard work and lifelong wear on the woman’s body.

How the Realistic Model Came to Life

Grav worked hand-in-hand with Thomas Foldberg, who’s a renowned Denmark-based film makeup artist, to create a model of Tora as realistic as possible. Contrary to some of the most common 3D models of long-gone individuals or animals created thus far, the scientist relied primarily on hints from the woman’s skeleton instead of using X-rays or CT scans. To create the woman’s skin, the makeup artist used silicone and hand-printed spots.

What made the model look so incredibly lifelike was that experts attached her lashes and facial hair one by one. The result is truly mesmerizing. Additionally, Grav partnered with a textile professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Oslo to help her create the model’s garments. The expert used archaeological finds from the area where she was found to determine the type of fabrics she might have worn in her life before contacting a local dressmaker to sew the clothing.