Facial Reconstruction

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Facial reconstruction plays a large role in providing identification and justice to unknown human bodies. From Neolithic skull plastering, to death masks, to modern techniques, there have been immense changes in both efficiency and usage over the years. Many notable forensic anthropologists dedicated their lives and research to the development of this form of identification. The immensity of change in facial reconstruction techniques over the years is definitely not indicative of the focus placed on this field. Bones and mummies of the dead have long been preserved as objects of reverence by many ancient cultures. (Verze 5) A prime example is the people of Jericho in the Neolithic Jordan River Valley. They would bury their dead under their houses, and there, the first evidence of skull plastering was found. Skull plastering in ancient cultures consisted of an orignal skull with a plaster face molded around it, and decorated to look like the face of the deceased. This was followed by the people of the Middle Ages building over skulls of missing persons to avoid the problem of decomposition when they were displayed for identification (Verze 6). Next was wax-modeling, which was greatly appreciated during the renaissance, and developed further in the 18th century. At this point, wax modeling was used almost exclusively for academic anatomical purposes. They did, however, start to focus more on anatomical correctness in skulls; this juxtaposes the previous practices of using more superficial features for reconstruction. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the role of facial reconstruction in communities shifted from identification to crime detection. This was the turning point which bred a new era in facial reconstruction.

The first method in this new era of facial reconstruction came in the beginning of the 20th century. The Russian Method, developed by Mikhail Gerasimov, was built around the principle that musculature could be rebuilt based on the traces of...
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