Sagalassos is one of the best conserved antique sites in Turkey. Founded in the 5th Century BC, it was completely abandoned in the 11th Century AD, following earthquakes, invasions and epidemics of the plague. Since 1990, archaeological digs have been carried out at the site under the leadership of a KU Leuven team.
The reconstitution of the two faces is part of an effort to build a better picture of daily life at Sagalassos at its height, Professor Jeroen Poblome, current head of the research project, explained to the press on presenting the result of its work on Monday.
The man, a Roman, baptised Rhodon, was apparently about 50 years old at the time of his death and belonged to the middle class. The fractures and joint disorders found on his body point to a rough life. The woman, Eirene, of Byzantine origin, was 30 to 50 years old at death. She suffered less from joint disorders and was buried in a more austere fashion than Rhodon, who was found surrounded by funereal gifts.
To redo their faces, a team from the University of Burdur first did a 3D-scan of the skulls. It was able to deduce their features with 75% accuracy. For their skin, eye and hair colour, the researchers based their representation on the dominant characteristics of the area’s current inhabitants. Historical sources were used to come up with the hair and beard styles.
The two faces will be on display at the KU Leuven Library until 25 June, after which they will return home for a major exposition on Sagalassos, to be held in Istanbul this autumn, then at the Museum of Burdur.