Facial reconstruction – anatomical art or artistic anatomy?

Authors


Caroline Wilkinson, Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification, MSI Building, Dow Street, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 5EH, UK. E: c.m.wilkinson@dundee.ac.uk

Abstract

Facial reconstruction is employed in the context of forensic investigation and for creating three-dimensional portraits of people from the past, from ancient Egyptian mummies and bog bodies to digital animations of J. S. Bach. This paper considers a facial reconstruction method (commonly known as the Manchester method) associated with the depiction and identification of the deceased from skeletal remains. Issues of artistic licence and scientific rigour, in relation to soft tissue reconstruction, anatomical variation and skeletal assessment, are discussed. The need for artistic interpretation is greatest where only skeletal material is available, particularly for the morphology of the ears and mouth, and with the skin for an ageing adult. The greatest accuracy is possible when information is available from preserved soft tissue, from a portrait, or from a pathological condition or healed injury.

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