Scientists Reconstruct Face Of 35,000-Year-Old Egyptian Skeleton

AMIR MAKAR/AFP via Getty Images

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Analysis of an ancient male Egyptian skeleton fossil published in March shows what is thought to be a highly accurate recreation of his facial structure.

Brazilian scientists carried out the research, analyzing the 35,000-year-old fossilized skeleton named Nazlet Khater 2 (NK2) in order to determine what he may have looked like while he was still alive, according to the published data. NK2 was discovered in 1980 as an almost-complete skeleton with the exception of parts of his feet and hands. He was found in the Nile Valley along with the remains of a stone axe.

Scientists were able to estimate his age using carbon dating of various samples placed at his burial site, but they are still not completely sure when he existed, according to the study. Further analysis suggested NK2 was somewhere between 17 and 29 years old, and was likely of African ancestry, but had a mostly modern skull in terms of human development.

Using forensic facial reconstruction, the researchers were able to reconstruct an approximate replica of NK2’s face from his skull. While the colors used in images of NK2 shared online are more of an artistic rendering, the overall facial shape and construction is considered to be the most accurate that science allows at this time, according to the study. (RELATED: Earliest Evidence Of Human Development Suggests We Were Hunting In 52,000 BC)

NK2’s bone structure suggested he had a life of labor, the scientists wrote. Vertebral lesions in his bones suggest NK2 was involved in mining activity, which is believed to be part of the region’s social processes for millennia. For example, researchers discovered a possible 1.2 million year-old workshop in Ethiopia, not far from Egypt, in early January.