Facial reconstruction of a Wari noblewoman

Archaeologists reconstructed the face of a wealthy Wari noblewoman who was buried 1200 years ago at the age of at least 60 in a tomb located in El Castillo de Huarmey, Peru, with rich goods, such as jewellery, flasks, and weaving tools made of gold.

Reconstructed face of the noblewoman (by Oscar Nilsson)

The tomb of the noblewoman was discovered in 2012 by Miłosz Giersz and Roberto Pimentel Nita at the site of a large temple complex for the Wari culture, which dominated the region centuries before the Inca. The tomb contained the remains of 58 noblewomen, including four queens or princesses. One of these women was buried her own private chamber, surrounded with jewellery and other luxuries, including gold ear flares, a copper ceremonial axe, and a silver goblet. She was dubbed “the Huarmey Queen”.

Skull of the Wari noblewomen (by Robert Clark & National Geographic Creative)

Her remains were chosen to be recreated, and the person responsible for that was archaeologist Oscar Nilsson. The facial reconstruction was made manually on a 3D-printed model of the skull as base. The researcher relied on the skull’s construction, as well as datasets that let him estimate the thickness of muscle and flesh atop the bone. For reference, he also used photographs of indigenous Andeans living near El Castillo de Huarmey. After 220 hours the reconstruction was completed and presents a stunning life-like image of an elderly woman. The reconstruction was finished off with real hair from elderly Andean women bought in a Peruvian wig-supply market.

Process of reconstructing the face (by Oscar Nilsson)

The finished reconstruction will be on public display since December 14, at a new exhibit of Peruvian artefacts opening at the National Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw, Poland.

(after National Geographic, Oscar Nilsson, Robert Clark & National Geographic Creative)

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