Technology Brings Ancient Biblical Faces to Life

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- What did Samson's Delilah look like? And what about a man who might have known Jesus?

Science and technology are now teaming up to create a glimpse of people from the time of the Bible.

In the National Geographic series, "Lost Faces of the Bible," artists used the skulls of a Galilean man who may have heard Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and a Philistine woman who may have known Delilah, the wife of Samson, to recreate what they may have looked like.

"You do see facial reconstructions of ancient people -- [from] Iceland, from Europe or Egyptian mummies, but you never see biblical faces," filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici said. "You never see people from the Holy Land, from Israel."

When human bones are found in Israel, they're often reburied immediately, so to work with skulls is rare.

"We realized that modern technology has given us an opportunity to do in Israel what has been done elsewhere, namely to bring ancient faces back to life," Jacobovici said.
Using criminal investigation techniques, Jacobovici, anthropologist Israel Hershkovitz and their team reconstructed four ancient faces to flesh out stories from the Bible.
"I want to tell the story of the Jewish people in the Galilee and I used it and I used the facial reconstruction to look at the story from a different angle," Hershkovitz explained.
The other players -- a Canaanite baby placed in a jar and buried under a house who may have been the victim of child sacrifice and a 6,000-year-old hunter who may show life from the world of Jacob and Esau or Cain and Able.
Experts began by loading a CAT scan of the real skulls into a computer. An artist fills in any post-mortem damage.
 A 3D copier prints layers of the digital image as glue on successive layers of fine powder.

Forensic artist Victoria Lywood gives the skull a face. What comes out is amazing.

"So essentially what you're doing is going feature by feature and developing each one of those according to the studies and then what you get at the end of it is an approximation of the person you're after," she said.
Lywood says she doesn't anticipate the way the face will look.

"You just work it and see what you get at the end of it," she explained. "And I was surprised …when I saw the man who knew Jesus," she said. "I thought, let me check my measurements because this kind of looks like something you would see from the Bible or something like this."
At the same time, another forensic artist worked on a digital reconstruction much the same as animation is done today. His man from the Galilee was similar in some ways, but different in others.

Hershkovitz says he hopes these reconstructions will help young people understand the value of history.

"If you want to have a better future, we have to learn more about the past," he reasoned.
Jacobovici, meanwhile, said he hopes the work will reignite an interest in the Bible.

"I'm hoping that through the vehicle of this modern CSI-type forensic reconstruction, people will actually get excited again about turning to the Bible and reading these stories that are really the life blood of Western civilization," he said.

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CBN News
Julie Stahl and Chris Mitchell

Julie Stahl and Chris Mitchell

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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