Last November, archeology student Mahsa Vahabi accidentally stumbled upon some pottery and a pile of bones. While heading down Molavi Street near Tehran's Grand Bazaar, she noticed a stone foundation, bones, and pieces of pottery at the bottom of a construction site for the city's Water and Wastewater Company. She contacted veteran archeologist Siamak Sarlak, and together they convinced the Water and Wastewater Company to suspend their operations to make room for a proper excavation.
The bones she saw proved to be part of a skeleton believed to belong to a woman who lived 7000 years ago—and now, new 3D imaging technology is showing us what she might have looked like.
A team led by Mohammad Reza Rokni of the Archaeology Research Center has spent the months after the discovery reconstructing the skeleton's facial features using "whole parts of the skeleton and the principle of symmetry of human skeleton to reconstruct the missing parts or parts which are unfit for the reconstruction."
The reconstruction relied on pinpointing 11 points of the face on the eyes, nose, ears, cheeks, lips, and chin, and then adding texture digitally, based on modern human faces, to fill these pinpoints and make the overall reconstruction appear more human.
And about that hair: Rokni told Mehr News Agency, "since we had no trace of the hairs, choosing a color for hair was a matter of taste; in doing so, we drew upon the signs in pottery found in Cheshmeh Ali [a late Neolithic and Chalcolithic village in northern Iran] ... standard modeling software versions helped us synchronize and corrected."
Even with these inferences, Rokni believes the images his team created are 95 percent accurate to what the woman would have actually looked like 7000 years ago.