Scientists have used facial reconstruction techniques to reveal what three Egyptian men looked like more than 2,000 years ago. The experts extracted DNA from these three individuals and analyzed their mummified remains. The mummies were found at an ancient Nile community named Abusir el-Meleq.
The first individual, who has been named “JK2134” lived between 776 and 569 BC; the second man named “JK2888” was alive between 97 and 2 BC; and the third was named “JK2911” who lived between 769 and 560 BC.
Based on advanced technology and forensic medicine, experts at Parabon NanoLabs were able to determine what the three men looked like when they were about 25 years of age. They each had light brown skin, dark eyes, black hair, and no freckles. Interestingly, they appeared less like ancient Egyptians and more like modern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern people.
In a press release provided by Parabon NanoLabs, they described the three individuals’ appearances in further detail, “These results are highly consistent with Schuenemann et al’s conclusions that ‘ancient Egyptians shared more ancestry with Near Easterners than present-day Egyptians, who received additional sub-Saharan admixture in more recent times’ and that they had an allele for lighter skin.”
Dr. Janet Cady, who is a Parabon bioinformaticist and WGS analyst, explained how the advancement of low-coverage imputation helped them in being able to provide facial features to the three ancient Egyptians, “Parabon has been the leader in forensic microarray analysis for years, and with the introduction of this new imputation technology, we can now handle even the most challenging samples, ancient or forensic.”
Once they completed the “imputation” process, they conducted their Snapshot DNA Phenotyping pipeline” in order to estimate the missing pieces such as the “…mummy’s ancestry, pigmentation, and face morphology.” At that point, the 3D “face morphology” provided details regarding their front and side facial profiles. “It’s great to see how genome sequencing and advanced bioinformatics can be applied to ancient DNA samples,” said Dr. Ellen Greytak who is Parabon’s director of bioinformatics.
It’s also important to mention that researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, and the University of Tubingen in Germany processed the samples.
A picture of what these three young Egyptian men looked like can be seen here.