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Scientists Reveal What These Historical Figures Really Looked Like

Have you ever wondered what certain figures from History actually looked like? Sure, we have access to paintings of sculptures of kings, emperors, and the like. However, it’s safe to say that these are not always accurate: either due to the limitations of artistic techniques back then or because those portraits were often commissioned to flatter them.

However, with modern science and technology, historians and archaeologists can reconstruct what famous characters from the past really looked like. Here, we have compiled some of those reconstructions: but be warned that some of them might change how you think of certain historical figures!

When you think of King Tut of Egypt, also known as Tutankhamun, the first thing that comes to your mind is the famous, sumptuous gold mask found in his grave.

However, the real King Tut was probably a much gloomier sight: the Pharoah suffered from multiple illnesses and malformations due to his ancestors’ inbreeding. He passed away at 17, and his appearance was that of a pale, ill, frail individual.

Nero was one of the most infamous emperors in the History of Rome. He took on the title at just 17 years of age and ordered the death of his own mother five years later.

He was known as a musician, artist, and composer; but he was also hated by the upper classes for raising taxes. In 64 A.D., Rome was set on fire (according to the legend, by Nero himself). The emperor dressed up, climbed up to his palace’s roof, and started playing his lyre and singing before ending his life. His last words? “What an artist dies in me!”

Queen Nefertiti is another one of the most famous figures from ancient Egypt. You’ve probably seen her colored bust, even if it’s just on medallions, tattoos, or something like that.

Some years ago, a team of researchers tried to reconstruct a 3D image of Nefertiti’s face, based on the famous bust and other representations of the Egyptian queen. Here’s the result.

Julius Caesar is undoubtedly one of the most controversial figures in History. After an impressive career of military conquests, rumors started spreading that his intentions were turning the Roman republic into an authoritarian, personal regime. That was the reason for his assassination.

There are countless statues, representations, and descriptions of Julius Caesar; so the researchers who printed this 3D model of his face had plenty of material to base their work on.

After Nefertiti, Cleopatra is undoubtedly the most famous Egyptian queen in History. She’s known for her romances with Julius Caesar and Roman general Mark Anthony.

Not so many people know that she was actually of Greek heritage: she came from the Ptolemaic dynasty, the lineage of Pharaohs coming from Alexander the Great’s generals after they took over Egypt.

Shakespeare’s personal life is still a matter of discussion among scholars and experts; one topic that’s also a subject of debate was his extravagant appearance. He used to wear an earring and had dark, curly hair, which wasn’t usual in England at that time.

Some scholars have even suggested that he might have been of Moorish heritage! We may never know that for sure. However, here’s a reconstruction of what his face might have looked like at an older age. 

The name of Meritamun may not ring a bell the way those of Cleopatra or Nefertiti do. However, she was one of the Royal Wives of Pharaoh Ramesses. She was buried in the Egyptian Valley of Queens.

Recently, researchers from the University of Melbourne found her skull and reconstructed a 3D model of what her face might have looked like by the time of her decease, at the young age of 25.

There are almost infinite artistic representations of Jesus Christ in churches and museums; however, most of them probably don’t match what he actually looked like.

A team of British and Israeli researchers recently did a 3D model of what Jesus might have looked like, which shouldn’t be much different from the appearance of the average inhabitant of the Roman province of Palestine in his era. This is what they came up with.

Johann Sebastian Bach, born in 1685, was one of the greatest musicians and composers ever. He became famous for his ability on the organ, for the music he composed for the church, and for the complexity of his compositions.

Recent research has proven that these are so intricate that they actually follow complex mathematical formulas in their structure!

Does the name of St. Nicholas sound familiar? No? Well, he’s the real Santa Claus! Or at least the historical figure that originated his legend and the name by which people still refer to Santa in many parts of the world.

The original Santa was a Turkish bishop from the IV century who was known for his generosity. He used to leave presents in the shoes of children who left them outside the house.

Dante Alighieri is one of the greatest writers of all time. As you may know, he wrote the Divine Comedy, a story in verse of his visit to Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Aside from poetry, he also wrote philosophical works.

Italian scholars managed to reconstruct a 3D model of his face based on portraits and Dante’s own skull, which is still in decent condition.

Maximilien de Robespierre was one of the most prominent, but also infamous figures of the French Revolution. He was behind an appalling number of executions of nobility and royalty members, as well as of other people suspected to be agents contrary to the Revolution.

In the end, he himself was executed by his political enemies. Researchers Philippe Froesch and Philippe Charlier created this rendering of his face, relying on artwork and two death masks.

Ramses II, or Ramesses the Great, was the third Pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty in Egypt. He was born in the year 1303 BC and reigned from 1279 to 1213 BC. 

In his lifetime, he had 48 to 50 sons and 40 to 53 daughters. Researchers estimate that this is what he probably looked like at the time of his death, at 90 years of age. 

Otzi The Iceman is the oldest known human mummy discovered in Europe. Found in the Ötztal Alps in September 1991. He lived sometime between 3400 and 3100 BCE.

His body was preserved because he was frozen in ice for approximately 5,300 years, giving researchers a privileged source to see what life was like in the Bronze Age. According to scholars, this is what he probably looked like.


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