Faces from the past

Faces from the past

May 27, 2009
A 3-D printer produced an Egyptian mummy

A 3-D printer produced an Egyptian mummy's skull. Forensic artists then marked the skin's thickness (2), moulded the facial features (3) and created a likeness (4) of the ancient beauty.
Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium

Robert Hoppa and his team at the University of Manitoba’s Bioanthropology Digital Image Analysis Laboratory (BDIAL), in Winnipeg, are unravelling ancient history by looking at it in three dimensions.

Collaborating with colleagues in the United States, for example, Hoppa helped turn two-dimensional CT scans of Egyptian mummies into 3-D skull models. Forensic artists then used the models to reconstruct the facial features of the Akhmim people, who lived around 300 BC.

BDIAL has produced 3-D replicas of bones from preserved Iron Age bog bodies from Germany, artifacts from Manitoba archaeological sites and bones from a former Manitoba Mennonite village. “There is huge value in our archaeological heritage,” says Hoppa. “We want to preserve that information in different ways to present it to the broad public.”