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2,000-year-old skull undergoing facial reconstruction at St Paul's Catacombs

Heritage Malta project will bring visitors face-to-face with the past

The woman's skull was the best-preserved archaeologists found in the site. Photos: Heritage Malta

The woman's skull was the best-preserved archaeologists found in the site. Photos: Heritage Malta

A woman buried at St Paul’s Catacombs almost 2,000 years ago is to be ‘brought back to life’ thanks to expert facial reconstruction techniques which will bring visitors face-to-face with an ancient local resident.

Eventually, this facial reconstruction will form part of the site’s permanent display, Heritage Malta explained in a statement.  

The woman’s skeleton was discovered during archaeological excavations beneath the catacombs’ new visitor centre and was chosen for reconstruction as her skull was the only one found with a complete jaw.

She is believed to have been between 18 and 27 and roughly 145cm tall when she died.

Studies on the bones indicate that although the woman must have had a reasonably healthy childhood, she was already suffering from degenerative joint disease, possibly due to mechanical work.

Osteoarchaeologist and forensic anthropologist Roberto Micciche, Adjunct of Anthropology at the University of Palermo, together with forensic anthropologist Daniele Di Lorenzo are carrying out reconstruction work. The project forms part of the post-excavation studies of the archaeological excavations held at St Paul’s Catacombs.

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