Faces of Indus Valley people reconstructed

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In a first-of-its-kind attempt, scientists have generated (what they claim to be) an accurate facial representation of people from the Indus Valley Civilisation.

Faces of Indus Valley people reconstructed
Original skulls (left) of two individuals which went through cranofacial reconstruction
and the final facial appearance after reconstruction [Credit: TNN]

The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) is one of the earliest civilisations on planet Earth, dating back 8,000 years. Archaeological remains from this ancient society have been discovered throughout a vast area that spans India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. While evidence has helped researchers learn much about things like their architecture, the customs of the Indus people and their clothing and ornaments, nobody knew what these people actually looked like–until now.

Thus far, the idea of Indus people’s facial appearances was based on portraits, an art form that was poorly developed in the Indus Valley. But now, close examination of the recently-unearthed skeletal remains from IVC has unveiled scientifically accurate representations of its residents’ faces.




In a study led by W J Lee and Vasant Shinde, craniofacial reconstruction (CFR) technique, using computed tomography (CT) data, was applied on two skulls from the Indus Valley Civilisation to recreate their faces. CFR is a technique widely used in the field of anatomy and forensics to approximate the faces of deceased individuals. The two deceased subjects examined in this study were selected from the 37 bodies that were found during an excavation project between 2013-2016, buried at the 4,500-year-old Rakhigarhi cemetery (situated near present-day Hisar District of Haryana, India).

After several stages of reconstruction that were performed on the two skulls, named BR02 and BR36 respectively, the following facial reconstructions were achieved.

While the findings are most certainly breakthrough, caution has been issued against drawing any generic conclusions. The authors of the study believe more investigation of graves and anthropological data is needed to form a comprehensive account on the subject.

The study has been published in the Anatomical Science International journal.

Source: Times of India [October 10, 2019]

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