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Thursday, 19 March 2015

The face of an 11 year old girl from Classical Athens

A fascinating story from Kathemerini and then in  

Around 430 BCE, typhoid fever wiped out a third of the Athenian population. Among the many casualties was the great Athenian politician, Pericles. In 1994-95 Greek archaeologists excavated a mass grave in the Kerameikos cemetery.

The grave contained the remains of 150 men, women and children all hastily buried. One of those victims was an 11 year old girl, which [who] archaeologists have dubbed ‘Myrtis’. The girl’s skull was so well preserved that scientists have been able to reconstruct her face down to the last detail. 

She evidently had reddish-brown hair, brown eyes, a straight nose and slightly protruding teeth.

What do I think?  Science is not dispassionate and there is no doubt that everyone who was / is involved with this project felt deeply for this little girl who probably didn’t make it to her 12th birthday.  It is truly fantastic that we can now see her face and we can learn so much from her death. Through the application of science, her untimely demise leaves us the richer.

Also we must record that this work is being funded and carried out under the aegis of the University of Athens – a place where the true meaning of the phrase ‘financial cuts’ must be blatantly apparent!

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