There has long been the question of what ancient Egyptians looked like. A group of Brazilian archaeological experts says they have figured it out.
Using Digital imaging Moacir Elias Santos, an archaeologist, and Cícero Moraes, a 3D designer, say they have created the face of an Egyptian man who lived 35,000 years ago.
To create the image, they used the skeletal remains of a man found at an archaeological site in Egypt to recreate a digital image. They used the skull of Nazlet Khater 2, the 35,000-year-old fossil discovered in 1980 in Egypt’s Nile Valley. Khater 2 was a man of African ancestry, aged between 17 to 29 years old at the time of his death. Researchers believe his height was approximately over five feet and three inches. The man’s skeletal remains are housed at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo.
“A few years ago, we were already working on a series of approximations related to human evolution, with the best-known fossil replicas,” Santos, an archaeologist at the Ciro Flamarion Cardoso Archaeology Museum in Ponta Grossa, Brazil, told CNN. “The videos were converted into photos and were used for the elaboration of the photogrammetry of the skull, which shaped the study.”
Photogrammetry is the art and science of extracting 3D information from photographs. The process involves taking overlapping photographs of an object, structure, or space and converting them into 2D or 3D digital models.
The researchers also unveiled a 3D construction of an ancient Nabataean woman based on remains that were discovered in 2015 in a 2,000-year-old tomb in Hegra, an archaeological site in Saudi Arabia.
“Using the skulls of living people in addition to work carried out in the forensic field… the probability that the image resembles what NK2 looked like is significantly high,” Moraes, Arc-Team Brazil, Sinop-MT, Brazil, told CNN.
Santos and Moraes plan to show facial reconstruction at an exhibition in the future following their study, published in the Brazilian journal OrtogOnline in March.
Details of study, “The Facial Approximation of the Skull of Nazlet Khater 2” can be found here.
A different study conducted in 2017 examined whether or not ancient Egyptians were Black people or white? There had always been a problem finding intact DNA from ancient Egyptian mummies, but the researchers for this study, “Ancient Egyptian mummy genomes suggest an increase of Sub-Saharan African ancestry in post-Roman periods,” said they found a way around that.
Egypt was conquered many times, including by Alexander the Great, by the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and more.
The study was led by archaeogenetics Johannes Krause, also of the Max Planck Institute.
“The hot Egyptian climate, the high humidity levels in many tombs and some of the chemicals used in mummification techniques, contribute to DNA degradation and are thought to make the long-term survival of DNA in Egyptian mummies unlikely,” the study noted.
Scientists compared the mummies’ genomes to that of 100 modern Egyptians and 125 Ethiopians.
“For 1,300 years, we see complete genetic continuity,” Krause said.
Using high-throughput DNA sequencing and cutting-edge authentication techniques, researchers proved they could retrieve reliable DNA from mummies, despite the unforgiving climate and damaging embalming techniques, Big Think reported. The results suggest that the ancient Egyptians were most closely related to the peoples of the Near East, particularly from the Levant. The Levant is an approximate historical, geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia.
Despite the research, others have disputed the findings.
Anthropological analysis later identified the skeletal remains as being of a man of African ancestry, aged between 17 to 29 years old at the time of his death. Credit: Courtesy Cicero Moraes