Revealing the Face of an Ancient Egyptian: Synthesis of Current and Traditional Approaches to Evidence-Based Facial Approximation

Kaitlin E. Lindsay, Frank J. Rühli, Valerie Burke Deleon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The technique of forensic facial approximation, or reconstruction, is one of many facets of the field of mummy studies. Although far from a rigorous scientific technique, evidence-based visualization of antemortem appearance may supplement radiological, chemical, histological, and epidemiological studies of ancient remains. Published guidelines exist for creating facial approximations, but few approximations are published with documentation of the specific process and references used. Additionally, significant new research has taken place in recent years which helps define best practices in the field. This case study records the facial approximation of a 3,000-year-old ancient Egyptian woman using medical imaging data and the digital sculpting program, ZBrush. It represents a synthesis of current published techniques based on the most solid anatomical and/or statistical evidence. Through this study, it was found that although certain improvements have been made in developing repeatable, evidence-based guidelines for facial approximation, there are many proposed methods still awaiting confirmation from comprehensive studies. This study attempts to assist artists, anthropologists, and forensic investigators working in facial approximation by presenting the recommended methods in a chronological and usable format.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1144-1161
Number of pages18
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • 3D image analysis
  • Computed topography
  • Facial reconstruction
  • Mummy studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biotechnology


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