See the 3D Facial Reconstruction of a Woman From the Stone Age

The “Penang woman” skeleton was found in 2017 during an excavation at the Neolithic Guar Kepah site in Penang, northwest Malaysia, by a group of archaeologists from the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). It was one of the 41 skeletons that were unearthed from the location throughout several excavations. Shells discovered strewn about the woman’s remains were radiocarbon dated, indicating that she lived during the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, which lasted from 8,000 to 3,300 B.C. in the area. Researchers worked on the reconstruction of her face.

The 3D Facial Reconstruction of a Woman from the Stone AgeCicero Moraes in Collaboration With the University of Southern Malaysia

Researchers from the University of Southern Malaysia, in collaboration with a Brazilian graphics expert named Cicero Moraes, were able to create a facial approximation of the woman by using CT (computed tomography) scans of the body’s “almost complete” skull and 3D images of contemporary Malaysians. Based on dental wear and a cranial suture closure, it’s estimated that the woman lived until the age of about 40.

Following the digitization of the skull, Moraes placed a series of markers along the virtual surface of the skull. These markers were mostly based on statistical studies conducted on suitable populations, such as Malaysians living in the contemporary day. In addition to that, they employed virtual donors that had a structure that was near to the skull that needed to be approximated, and then they modified (deformed) the donor so that it fit the skull. 3D computed tomography was used for the reconstruction. They have a good notion of what the face may look like based on all of the cross-data that they have.

What Did They Found After Reconstruction?

That face has large lips and a wide nose. Even though it’s not a perfect reproduction of the woman, Moraes noted that the approximation’s accuracy was “important.”

The discovery of the woman’s remains in one of three shells “middens” (or kitchen dumps, where prehistoric humans would dispose of shells, bones, and other food waste) at the excavation site has helped researchers better understand her. According to the Malay Mail which covered the excavation back in 2019, the woman was discovered with her arms folded and surrounded by burial items, such as pottery and stone tools, which may suggest that she had a significant role in society.

For the reconstruction, they used two heads that contain the soft tissues and the skull from virtual donors and deformed the structures. This way, the donor skull matches the skull whose face will be approximated. The result is a brand new face that’s fully compatible with what it’d be like in real life.

According to a video published by the New Strait Times, an English-language news agency based in Malaysia, the process of completely rebuilding the building took many months.

The final step is to finish the face. This includes adding the styling of the hair and pigmentation. Currently, researchers are not quite sure about the cause of the woman’s tragic fate.