As alive. A Swedish scientist reconstructed the face of a Stone Age woman

“Seen in our eyes today, it looks like a mother and a son. People of old would probably have the same opinion. It is possible that this is indeed the case, but it could also have been siblings. Or relatives, or just friends within a tribe. We don’t know the exact answer to this question, as unfortunately the DNA has not been preserved enough to prove the relationship between the two people,” Oscar Nilsson told the media. (The model has attracted much international attention and has been reported by a number of titles: e.g., Science Alert, Live Science and others, ed. Note)

Good mother keeping an eye on her

However, Nilsson added that when shaping his “heroes” by a woman’s posture and shaping her face, he was actually imagining her as a mother near a small son running around her.

“She watches with her mother’s eyes — both lovingly and tenderly and with a bit of rigor,” Nilsson told Live Science. That stern but tender look just seems to be calling the boy and warning him to be careful.

The Neolithic woman and child were buried in a “stone coffin”, which was essentially long flat stones put together in the shape of a burial chest.

The woman was about thirty years old at the time of her death and about 150 centimeters tall. According to Nilsson, even the Neolithic was rather a smaller person.

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Her remains showed no signs of malnutrition, injury or disease, so we don’t know the cause of her death, although it’s possible she died of an illness that leaves no trace in the bone remains. . However, according to Nilsson, she seems to have had a great life.

An examination of isotopes in her teeth revealed that she fed on a terrestrial diet, which is odd as her grave was found near a fish-filled river not far from shore.

How to create the look of an old person

Nilsson was commissioned to create a female model two years ago. He first scanned the skull and made a copy with a plastic 3D printer, then gradually began to reconstruct his face.

As with other reconstructions he has created so far (such as the 1200-year-old face of the ancient queen of Wari, found in present-day Peru, or the Stone Age man, whose head was stabbed on a spike), he had the sex, age, weight and ethnicity of a woman – factors that can affect the thickness of facial tissues and the overall appearance of a woman. a person.

Unfortunately, due to the high degree of DNA degradation, he could not determine with certainty either the genetic origin of the woman or the color of her hair or eyes.

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So he took all the information available to help. He knew that three great waves of migration had come to prehistoric Scandinavia: in the first, which took place 12,000 to 10,000 years ago, came dark-skinned hunters and gatherers who had rather blue eyes . In the second wave, farmers came from more southern regions, people with pale skin, black hair and brown eyes. And the third wave involved the people of the Pit Culture, originating from the region of present-day Ukraine, which stretched from Transnistria to the Ural River. These people were slightly darker than the farmers, came to Scandinavia about 3,500 years ago and brought with them the art of working certain metals, creating the first Bronze Age culture in the region, according to Nilsson. .

Based on this information, Nilsson decided to give the woman brown hair and eyes and give her the fair farmer complexion. However, this does not exclude that this woman and her peers are not yet fully engaged in agriculture and combine primary agricultural work with hunting and harvesting.

“We cannot say for sure whether she lived a nomadic life or the life of settled farmers. This cannot be determined with precision, because, of course, there was a transition period of several hundred during which people abandoned their old way of life. But we decided on the safest possible interpretation,” Nilsson said.

Fancy fur, stone age style

The reconstructed Lagmansören woman was then dressed head to toe in furs and skins by freelance archaeologist Helena Gjaerum, using genuine Stone Age techniques.

Before designing suitable clothing, she studied information about the prehistoric Scandinavian climate, the appearance and character of the landscape, the vegetation of the time, and the life of animals that occurred in the Lagmansören region during the Neolithic period.

Based on this study, she designed women’s clothing from deer, deer and moose hides and shoes from a combination of reindeer, beaver and fox fur. “The woman probably stuffed her shoes with hay,” said Gjaerum, who also drew inspiration from the clothing of early American and Siberian peoples and the well-preserved fur garments of the famous “Iceman Ötzi” mummy who lived about 5,300 years ago. in the Italian Alps.

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Remaking clothes required many hours of work. For her, Gjaerum obtained real skins and furs from dead animals, which she first scraped off the remains of meat and then placed in a stream, a method that helps loosen the fur from the skin. The coat was then scraped again and the skin was “soaked” with a moose brain solution. It is a mixture of fats that binds to the fibers of the skin and serves both to prevent the skin from hardening and to prevent it from rotting if it gets wet.

The next steps involved kneading, boiling, squeezing and smoking the skins, and finally designing the clothes themselves. The archaeologist used his own son, who was about as tall as a Stone Age woman, as a test model.

The pralids were neat, their clothes practical

She made the garment as comfortable and practical as possible – for example, she didn’t place any seams in the upper arm so water couldn’t seep through in rainy weather.

Like other archaeologists, Gjaerum challenges the widespread notion of Stone Age people as primitives dressed only roughly in furs attached to their bodies.

“I think it’s stupid to think that this woman would have primitive clothes,” Gjaerum told Live Science. “I wanted her to dress like we dress in furs today, because we’re like Homo sapiens.”

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