A lifelike reconstruction of Julius Caesar's face reveals the Roman leader's skull had an odd deformation that made him look less noble than his accomplishments would make him out to look.
The three-dimensional reconstruction was done by experts at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, the Netherlands. It was made to help promote archaeologist Tom Buijtendorp's book Caesar in the Low Countries.
By analyzing 3D scans of ancient marble portraits and depictions of Julius Caesar in Roman coins, experts were able to piece together a new representation using clay and silicone.
Reconstruction Of Julius Caesar's Face
Buijtendorp worked with archaeologist and anthropologist Maja d'Hollosy, who has extensive experience in facial reconstruction, to create the new likeness for Julius Caesar.
The pair used two ancient marble busts, which looked similar to each other, as the basis of their creation. One of these is a portrait of Julius Caesar housed in the Leiden museum, which unfortunately had procured damage and had missing pieces in the forehead, mouth, and nose.
They decided to supplement this with the Tusculum bust, a second marble portrait unearthed in Tusculum, a site for ancient excavations located to the south of Rome. The Tusculum bust is housed in the Archaeological Museum of Turin.
D'Hollosy took 3D scans of both busts and combined the details into the Leiden 3D scan. She then removed the top layer of the bust and used clay and silicone to achieve a more lifelike appearance.
"I do not let him look happy and friendly," d'Hollosy tells Dutch newspaper HLN. "He was a general who was about corpses."
Historical accounts portray Julius Caesar as a man with black eyes and a thin tuft of salt-and-pepper-colored hair. Contrary to posthumous portrayals, the experts say Julius Caesar did not have much hair.
Julius Caesar Had A 'Crazy Bulge'
Apart from his less-than-gallant appearance, Julius Caesar skull was unusually large.
"So he has a crazy bulge on his head," Buijtendorp says. "A doctor said that such a thing occurs in a heavy delivery. You do not invent that as an artist. And realistic portraits were in fashion."
It is unclear how the self-styled Roman dictator got his deformed head. Common knowledge had it that Julius Caesar had a Caesarian-section birth, hence the name of the surgery. However, historical evidence shows this rumor has no credence.
At the time, C-sections were only done on dead or dying mothers to save the baby and add one more head to a population the Roman republic wished to grow so badly. Julius Caesar's mother, Aurelia, lived long enough to witness her son's expeditions to Britain.
Skull deformations are not as uncommon as some may think. The skull of a newborn is quite malleable because of the gaps between the bones in the head. This makes it easier to squeeze the baby out of the birth canal and helps the brain grow faster. A force that is applied on a baby's head at childbirth can easily cause deformations.
Even in earlier times, some civilizations may have practiced deliberately deforming the skulls of their babies. The Neanderthals are believed to have done so 45,000 years ago, and other tribes throughout Europe, Asia, and Central America also practiced some form of head deformation for a variety of purposes, not the least of which are aesthetic in nature.
The deformation of Julius Caesar's head, however, is more likely to have had a natural cause.