The face of an African woman who lived more than 1,700 years ago was recreated using craniofacial reconstruction techniques.
Known as the “Beachy Head Lady,” her skeleton was discovered in 1853 in Beachy Head, England, but it's only recently that a detailed picture of the ancient woman’s life has been revealed. According to researchers, the ancient woman was around 30 years old when she died, circa 245 A.D., during the middle of the Roman period in Britain.
"This is a fantastic discovery for the south coast. We know this lady was around 30 years old, grew up in the vicinity of what is now East Sussex, ate a good diet of fish and vegetables. Her bones were without disease and her teeth were in good condition," Jo Seaman, heritage officer at Eastbourne Borough Council, said in a statement.
The reconstructed face of the “Beachy Head Lady” is on display at an exhibition at the Eastbourne Museum in East Sussex. The woman, who came from sub-Saharan Africa, has dark skin, black curly hair and dark eyes. The “Beachy Head Lady” belonged to a collection of 300 skeletons found in the U.K. Testing of bones and teeth revealed regional origin, age, gender, health, diet and cause of death in some cases. This data combined with those from excavations relating to skeletons’ burials and grave goods can explain their social status and possibly what they did in life.
Since no burial goods were found with the “Beachy Head Lady,” experts are uncertain of how the “Beachy Head Lady” came to the U.K., some theories point to her being a wife or mistress of a local official at a nearby Roman villa or a trading merchant that decided to settle in Britain.
“Another theory is the rather more upsetting possibility that this lady may have been a slave; we just don’t know at this stage,” Seaman adds.
The “Beachy Head Lady” isn’t the first archeological find in Britain to be reconstructed.
Last year, the face of King Richard III was unveiled. The remains of the British monarch, found under a parking lot in England, were studied using CT scans in order to recreate his face.
"It doesn't look like the face of a tyrant. I'm sorry, but it doesn't,” Richard III Society member Philippa Langley, said. "He's very handsome. It's like you could just talk to him, have a conversation with him right now."