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Jane Banner

How can science help us see Jane?

Reconstructing a face from the pieces of skull that once supported it is a mix of art and science that can revive an appearance from four centuries ago.

Gaps in the skull where fragments are missing can be filled with computer imaging. A computed tomography or CT scan of each of the skull fragments gives a scientist a digital representation of exactly what one sees if holding the bone in hand, including knife cuts on the bone. Then the scientist can create missing parts of the skull by copying what did survive on the opposite side and then reversing those pieces. With such mirror imaging, a skull can be aligned to approach its original shape.

In that way, Jane's missing right malar bone was replaced, as was her central incisor and the maxilla with teeth on one side. The split up the middle of her skull was repaired. Spaces were closed around her upper arch. Her bones have returned to their proper anatomical position.

A resin cast of Jane's skull could then be made. Guided by scientifically-generated thickness markers on that mold, an experienced forensic sculptor skillfully applied modeling clay. Hairstyle and eye and hair color were based on 17th century portraits.

This reconstruction of the female Jamestown colonist was based on a CT scan that allowed a digital reconstructing of her splintered cranium. That digital image then became a 3D model of the skull that Ivan Schwartz and his team at StudioEIS in New York used to create a likeness of her facial features through sculpting and painting.

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