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In Images: An Ancient Long-headed Woman Reconstructed

Well-preserved find

Long-headed woman grave

Researchers recently unearthed the skeleton of a woman who lived about 1,500 years ago in what is now Korea. The body was found in the historic capital of the ancient Silla Kingdom, called Gyeongju. The Silla Kingdom was a royal dynasty that ruled much of the Korean peninsula for about a millennium. relatively intact, which is rare given that the soil in Korea doesn't typically preserve remains well.

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Bone fragments

Long-headed woman skull fragments

Here, a closeup of the upper portion of the body, co-mingled with other artifacts found in the tomb. The team analyzed the chemicals in the bones and found that the woman was a strict vegetarian, likely reflecting the influence of Buddhism in the country during that time.

Skull in pieces

Long-headed woman grave

While most of the skull was present, it was in fragments. So the team painstakingly reassembled them. Here, the fragments from the skull.

[Read the full story on the discovery of the long-headed woman]

Skull reconstructed

Long-headed woman grave

The team then used computer 3D modeling to virtually assemble the pieces. The program also filled in some of the missing pieces.

Reassembled skull

Long-headed woman grave

Using the computer model as a guide, the team them reconstructed the actual skull.

[Read the full story on the discovery of the long-headed woman]

Reconstructing the face

Long-headed woman grave

The tea then used anatomical reference guidelines to add on parts of the face, layer-by-layer. The major facial muscles were put in place one-by-one, followed by major facial components like nose and mouth, and finally the skin.

Ancient woman comes alive

Long-headed woman grave

The new 3D reconstruction of the woman's face shows a woman who had a longer skull than is currently typical in Korea. The woman's head was dolicephalic, meaning her head length is more than 80 percent of its width. However, the team does not believe this was due to deliberate deformation, but was rather a natural variation within the population.

[Read the full story on the discovery of the long-headed woman]