Facing life after death

François Lemieux
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JAC forensic artist and Western University anthropologists team up to produce CSI-style mummy reconstructions

The three Redpath Museum facial reconstructions together with their creator, JAC forensic artist Victoria Lywood. Photo by François Lemieux.

Thanks to skeletal data from recent CT scans and radiocarbon analyses, a forensic artist  from John Abbott College (JAC) and physical anthropologists from Western University were able to reconstruct the faces of three mummies owned by the Redpath Museum at McGill University.

The results of this facial reconstruction project show a young man and a young woman, as well as a white-haired matron, as they all might have appeared before their deaths. These facial reconstructions were unveiled on Jan. 25 at the Redpath Museum and are now featured as a new display in the World Cultures gallery.

The three mummies were CT-scanned at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital in 2011, to produce high-resolution 3D radiological images and sent to John Abbott College's department of engineering Mark Ewanchyna who used the scans to produce a 3D print-out of the skulls so that JAC forensic artist Victoria Lywood could have the information to create the facial reconstructions.

Anthropological analyses of the scans produced information about the demographics, social statuses, and medical ailments of these three ancients, providing insight to help understand how these people lived, how they died and how they looked at the time of death.

"The theory of this is that the skull is the foundation of the face and any asymmetry or anomalies that are on the skull will be reflected in the face," said JAC forensic artist Victoria Lywood.

"We don’t know how deep the skin was on the Egyptians 2000 years ago, but what we do is use the information from today to give us a facial approximation of what they look like. Through the scanning, you can actually see what’s on the skull. They knew that the older woman had white hair. They knew that the man had a lot of brown hair. We take that information, we take the information from the scans, every bit of information we can get."

Organizations: John Abbott College, Western University, Redpath Museum McGill University Montreal Neurological Institute

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