foto: Radio 2

Reconstructed Roman faces  at Tongeren’s Gallo Roman Museum

In 2013 a major discovery was made in the town of Tongeren (Limburg).  Dozens of skeletons were recovered from a gravesite dating from Roman times.  Today many of the skeletons have been properly analysed and on a handful the faces have been reconstructed with amazing results.

One grave fascinated researchers: it contained the remains of an adult man and two children.  All three were buried together.  DNA analysis has shown the children were brother and sister.  The good state of preservation of the skeleton and the DNA evidence allowed for a reconstruction of the faces.

“DNA can tell you a lot” says researcher Henk van der Velde. “The colour of hair and eyes, skin tone too”.

A 3D scan of the skull was made and little sticks were used to indicate the thickness of facial tissue. Researchers received the assistance of an expert who helps the police in facial reconstructions. 

“The result is a combination of high-level scientific research and fantastic artistic talent” says Van der Velde.

The grave didn’t give up all its secrets.  Man and boy were buried face down, the girl on her side.  The girl’s arms were wrapped around the man’s legs.  At first scientists thought a parent had been buried with his children, but DNA analysis failed to throw up any relationship between adult and children. The man may possibly have been the children’s stepfather.

The face reconstructions will be on show at the Gallo Roman Museum in Tongeren from 1 May.

foto: Radio 2
foto: Radio 2

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