- The Washington Times - Friday, June 30, 2017

Three years ago, a team of Irish archaeologists began the delicate work of  excavating a small burial site in Dublin, uncovered in a local transportation utilities trench, in a spot which had once been a public “commonage” area in the medieval era. With meticulous care, the team found the skeletal remains of five individuals.

Radiocarbon dating revealed the remains to date from as far back as 1485. The discovery was the start of a three-year project which ultimately yielded a startling image of someone who had lived 500 years ago.

“There was clear evidence for childhood malnutrition and heavy manual labor during life. Four of the individuals were adolescents, so approximately 13-17 years of age at death,” the team wrote in research compiled by Rubicon Heritage, an archaeological consultancy firm which advises helps local cities preserve and manage vulnerable heritage sites.

“The fifth burial was somewhat older an adult male, approximately 5-foot-six inches in height and aged 25-35 years at death,” the team said.

The archeologists then turned to the artists, commissioning a three dimensional digital facial reconstruction from the skull of the older male from Face Lab, a well-known forensic anthropology center at Britain’s Liverpool John Moore’s University.

A 3-D scan of the well-preserved skull came first. Specialized ‘cranio facial depiction” software later added muscles and tissue to the image.

“There was no definitive evidence as to what his eye or hair color would have been, so given that this man was from Dublin, the decision was made to use blue eyes and medium brown hair, fairly typical of Irish complexion and coloring,” the researchers noted in their analysis.

“Clothing shown in the reconstruction was kept plain and simple reflecting the individual’s humble status. All of this has allowed us to see for perhaps the first time the face of an ordinary Dubliner during the Tudor period.”

The image was released this week to much acclaim, and a lot of dramatic press coverage.

“Look into the eyes of a 500-year-old Dubliner,” noted the Daily Mail.

“Revealed: The face of an unknown Dubliner who died 500 years ago,” said the Irish Times.

It is not the first time that researchers at the university’s FaceLab have produced startling historic likenesses. In 2016, the group have also released images of Robert the Bruce, the 14th century “hero king” of Scotland, again based on a skull cast and much input from academic experts and historical accounts.

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