The female known as the Auning Woman, found in a northeastern Jutland bog 1886, and housed at the Museum for Culture and History in Randers, has finally got a face.
Reasonably well-preserved when she popped up from the bog, the woman’s 2000-year-old skull was broken into several pieces.But sculptor Bjørn Skaarup and medical examiner Niels Lynnerup from the Panum Institute in Copenhagen have now reconstructed the Auning Woman’s face, using the common forensic clay method first developed by Russian anthropologist Mikhail Gerasimov.
The finished product was put on display today at the museum. And although the results have shown her to be neither attractive nor particularly ugly, a reproduction of her face that is according to Lynnerup ‘as close to reality as it comes’, can now be viewed.
Experts believe the woman was killed as a sacrifice, probably to pagan gods.
‘She was a perfectly ordinary looking woman,’ Lynnerup told Berlingske Tidende newspaper, adding that the degree of recognition accuracy from the forensic process is around 70 percent.
‘There’s no way to recreate a 100 percent perfect photographic likeness,’ he said. ‘But we’re certain that if anyone who knew the woman were to see the reconstruction, then they’d say it looks like her.’
Lynnerup and Skaarup have had considerable experience using their talents, having performed reconstructions of Denmark’s eighth king Svend II, 17th century nobleman Kaj Lykke and the oldest known Dane ever found, the 10,000 year-old Koelbjerg Woman.
With a plastic copy of the body’s skull – and knowing the sex and approximate age of the deceased – the pair is able to determine the general shape of the head and face, including the size of the nose and mouth.
Skaarup first creates the model’s muscles and tendons with help from Lynnerup as a kind of medical advisor. Then each layer of ‘skin’ is added on and moulded into shape.
Lynnerup admitted, however, that there was no way to know what a person’s ears and hair looked like without a sample. Eyebrows, eye colour, wrinkles and other features were also unable to be exactly recreated, he said.
The Auning Woman is being exhibited in the museum’s Ancient History wing.