This is What a Man from the Tomb of Sunken Skulls Looked Like

This is What a Man from the Tomb of Sunken Skulls Looked Like

When archaeologists were excavating a dry prehistoric lake bed in Motala, Sweden in 2009, they stumbled upon one of the most peculiar archaeological discoveries the nation had seen – the so-called ‘Tomb of the Sunken Skulls’, a collection of skulls dating back 8,000 years, which had been mounted on stakes. Now one of these skulls has been reconstructed to reveal the image of a man who met his fate at the gruesome archaeological site.

The Tomb of the Sunken Skulls

The Tomb of the Sunken Skulls is located on the eastern shore of Lake Vättern in the south eastern corner of Sweden. In 2009, a new railway line was to be built over a site known as Kanaljorden, where there once was a shallow lake. Before construction could commence, however, an excavation had to be conducted on the dry riverbed to determine if anything archaeologically important was buried beneath it. What the archaeologists found was a mysterious site dated back to Sweden’s Mesolithic period.

The Tomb of the Sunken Skulls is located on the eastern shore of Lake Vättern in Sweden. ( Allie Caulfield / CC BY 2.0 )

Archaeologists were understandably surprised when they uncovered the skulls and skull fragments of up to 11 individuals, including men, women, children, and even infants. Two of the human skulls –one fully intact and the other broken in half - were pierced with wooden stakes that protruded at the base of the cranium, while several others also showed signs that they had been treated in such a manner. Almost all of the adult skulls were jawless.

Reconstructing the Face of a Dead Man

LiveScience reports that one of the pierced skulls of a man was combined with his genetic information to create the bust of the “blue-eyed, brown-haired and pale-skinned individual in his 50s.” According to National Geographic , the man has been called Ludvig and he will be joined next year by a blonde, darker-skinned female.

The man behind the reconstruction is the forensic artist Oscar Nilsson, who has revealed the images of several other ancient people over the years. He explained the reasons behind many of his choices in reconstructing this man’s appearance. For example, his wardrobe was based on faunal remains within the grave, “He wears the skin from a wild boar. We can see from how the human skulls and animal jaws were found that they clearly meant a big deal in their cultural and religious beliefs” Nilsson said.

The chalk design on the man’s chest, on the other hand, reflects the artist’s beliefs “It's a reminder we cannot understand their aesthetic taste , just observe it,” he told LiveScience. “We have no reason to believe these people were less interested in their looks, and to express their individuality, than we are today.”

The reconstructed face of one of the skulls found at the Tomb of the Sunken Skulls in Sweden. ( Oscar Nilsson )

Rare Mesolithic Finds

The head of excavation for the Swedish heritage foundation Stiftelsen Kulturmiljövård Mälardalen, Fredrik Hallgren, said the skulls are the only known examples from the Mesolithic era . Hallgren also explained that most examples of this practice pertain to the historic period, in which colonial representatives mounted the skulls of murdered natives on wooden stakes.

Another interesting find was a female skull with another woman’s temporal bone stuffed inside it. Hallgren wonders whether the two women were close relatives, perhaps mother and daughter. The truth, however, will only be known through DNA analysis .

In addition to the skulls, archaeologists also found bones from other parts of the body, numerous animal bones, and tools made of stone, antler, and bone. The more noteworthy finds include a decorated pickaxe made from antler, bone points studded with flint, and animal remains that probably had a symbolic value to the people who used them. The artifacts were found to be laid out on a large stone packing, which is a type of mass grave encased in stone. This grave was built at the bottom of the shallow lake.

Archaeologists at work in Motala. Credit: Anna Arnberg

What Happened at the Tomb of the Sunken Skulls?

One plausible explanation for this curious site is that it was a ritual site which was used for secondary burials. According to this explanation, after the bodies of the dead decomposed, their bones were removed from their graves to be reinterred. Part of the ritual would have involved the display of the skulls, which is the function of the wooden stakes that were found protruding from the skulls found at Kanaljorden.

The pointed end of the stake was probably stuck into the ground, or perhaps into a bed of embers, as some of the skulls have slight traces of burning. After the ritual was complete, the remains were buried under the shallow lake (hence the name ‘Tomb of Sunken Skulls’). According to Hallgren, there is at least one other Mesolithic site in Sweden that bears traces of this tradition.

Another suggestion is that the skulls belonged to enemies killed in combat. According to this hypothesis, skulls were mounted on wooden stakes and brought back by warriors as war trophies . Scientific analysis would be able to help archaeologists gain a greater understanding of these remains.

  • Huarmey Queen: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in Ancient Peru
  • Forensic Scientists in Greece Have Recreated the Face of a 9,000-Year-Old Female Teenager
  • Facial Reconstruction Brings People Face-to-Face With Their Ancient Ancestors

One of the mounted skulls found in Motala, Sweden. Credit: Anna Arnberg.

Isotope analysis, for instance, would reveal whether the dead were from the local area or a distant place, while DNA analysis could inform whether the dead were related or not. So far, the researchers have obtained DNA data from six of the nine skulls and determined the skin , hair, and eye color of those individuals.

Based on isotope analysis, it seems that fish was an important part of the diet of the people buried at Kanaljorden. In addition, big forest game, such as red deer and elk, were hunted, based on the animal remains found at the site. Thus, it has been speculated that the society responsible for the burials at Kanaljorden were a nomadic people, and that the site was a sacred meeting spot.

For the most part of the year, the hunter-gatherers would be living in the surrounding areas, but they gathered at the rapids of the nearby river Motala for communal fishing of spawning fish. It is perhaps during this time of the year that marriages, feasting, and funerary rites were performed.

This is What a Neanderthal’s Voice Might Have Sounded Like

Archaeology can tell us much about ancient history. However, it can only study durable physical clues about what life was like for people in earlier times, and scientists have to infer the rest.

Fossil records can give us an idea about how organisms might have looked, but not how they smelled or sounded… until now.

In a 2013 article, the BBC discussed research which suggested a likelihood that Neanderthals had the same physical capacity for complex speech as modern humans. The determination was made after studying a fossilized Neanderthal hyoid bone.

Fossil skull of Homo Erectus, Homo Sapiens, Homo Neanderthalis and Homo Antecessor.

The hyoid is a small horseshoe-shaped structure in the throat that supports the root of the tongue. In humans, its placement is a large part of what gives us the ability to speak, and the same appears to be true for the Neanderthals.

The discovery upended the previous belief that complex human speech only evolved about 100,000 years ago, and that modern humans were the only ones who possessed the ability.

Hyoid bone. Photo by OpenStax College CC BY 3.0

According to Science Daily, Dr. Robert McCarthy from Florida Atlantic University reconstructed vocal tracks that simulate what Neanderthal voices may have sounded like. He and his team used a computer synthesizer and some 50,000-year-old fossils from France, and they created a recording of how a Neanderthal might pronounce the letter “e.”

The recording doesn’t sound like a letter in any modern language. According to McCarthy, that’s because Neanderthals didn’t have the “quantal vowels” that modern humans use. Quantal vowels give cues that make it possible for speakers with different sizes of vocal tracts to be able to understand each other.

Reconstruction of a Neanderthal. Photo by Stefan Scheer – Vlastito djelo CC BY 2.5

Although these vowels only make a slight difference in speech, their lack would have limited Neanderthal’s capacity for a well-developed spoken language, since they wouldn’t be able to distinguish between certain types of vowel sounds. McCarthy’s intention is to eventually simulate an entire sentence as it might be spoken by a Neanderthal.

Pronunciation and creation of sounds aren’t the only questions that have recently been addressed with regard to Neanderthal voices. Another aspect of how Neanderthals may have sounded has to do with pitch and tone.

A group of scientists has been researching those factors, according to Mental Floss. The team has been working with a Neanderthal skeleton to make both virtual and physical models of what the prehistoric men looked like and how they were built.

The team have used these models to extrapolate estimated measurements of various traits and abilities. One of the things they have created is a model of a Neanderthal throat and vocal tract.

Patsy Rodenburg is a vocal expert who focuses on learning about and understanding the sounds humans produce. She believes that the sounds made by Neanderthals may have been rather different than what we had previously supposed.

Instead of the stereotypical idea that prehistoric man communicated through low-pitched grunts, she says it is more likely that they instead had voices that were more like high-pitched shrieks.

When the scientists brought their model to Rodenburg, she came to the conclusion that the shape of the throat, in combination with the characteristically large skulls and deep chests of the early humans, would create sounds which were both unusual and loud. There isn’t any solid evidence yet to back her theory, but that doesn’t mean it’s implausible.

There has been a long-running debate over whether or not Neanderthals had the ability for spoken language as we understand it. Some have questioned whether our prehistoric cousins had the mental capacity to develop it.

Homo neanderthalensis. Photo by Luna04 – Own work CC BY 2.5

It seems clear, though, that the necessary physical structures were all in place. There are genetic indicators that suggest that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens interbred during several periods over the last 200,000 years or so, which suggests that mental ability may not have been an issue.

If we consider that our ability to communicate complex ideas through language is one of the traits that makes us human and sets us apart from other animals, then perhaps the Neanderthal were more human than we thought.

The Art Of Reconstructed Faces

Scientists and artists often use a 3D-printed skull they gleaned from either fragments of ancient humans or if they're lucky an entire skull. They then take every detail into consideration radiocarbon dating, dental plaque, and DNA analysis to determine the color of the subject's eyes, skin, and hair.

Some digital portraits are done using only a computer. Others are rendered in three dimensions by artists using clay and similar materials alongside this research. These artists use precise measurements and their knowledge of facial muscles to build an accurate model.

Sometimes an exact replica of a skull is used when the original needs to be kept. This involves lots of photos, digital rendering, and 3D printing or casting. Specialized forensic artists use all these same measures on contemporary skulls as well to help identify murder victims.

Hundreds of hours can go into one reconstruction. This begs the question — are they worth doing? In the case of a murder investigation, reconstructions are sometimes last-ditch efforts when there is no DNA, dental records, or photographs. However, when the identity is truly unknown, putting a face on a victim can be the difference between a cold case and a closed one.

But what about ancient people? How does it help us to learn about their physical appearance?


O ur van stopped in front of a crumbling concrete wall spray painted with Islamic symbols and stained with bleeding rust. I slowly opened the car door, its hinges squeaking loudly in protest. Stepping from the vehicle, I heard the sound of broken shards of glass crunch under my descending boot along with distant shouting. The commotion seemed to be coming my way.

A nearby heap of burning trash wafted sour-smelling smoke. A sudden gust of hot wind sent smoldering haze up past second story windows where women wearing headscarves glared down at me.

A pack of teenage boys, along with a few men, suddenly appeared down a narrow road strewn with garbage and all seemed agitated, if not angry, in their advance. But they all scattered like a startled flock of birds when a large man suddenly stepped toward me from between some buildings. The man was wearing old rubber sandals, sweatpants, a grease-sullied T-shirt, and a curdled scowl that extended down to his bulging neck. I had been told he was a man not to be trifled with and who had the final say in all things pertaining to the Silwan Village.

I had paid well to meet this Palestinian man who was, by all indications, the village headman. He ponderously strode up and stopped only when he was face to face with me. He was awkwardly close as he breathed out, &ldquoWhuu you wunn?&rdquo There was no handshake, nor any pleasantries associated with the usual protocols of meeting someone new.

I had tried to get into the notorious Silwan Village a couple of times before, but was always turned away by strafing rocks from gangs of angry Muslim youths. Over the centuries, this aesthetically impoverished neighborhood has been known as an enclave of murderers, thieves, and malcontents. In the 1800s, the famed explorer Charles Warren wrote, &ldquoThe people of Siloam [Silwan] are a lawless sect, credited with being the most unscrupulous ruffians in Palestine.&rdquo  1 Today it is not all that different in the Silwan Village.

The hefty man stood expressionless in front of me. His head was cocked to one side, arms interlocked and feet planted widely. I asked, as calmly as I could, for his permission to see the cliff area which was hidden from view behind a row of nearby homes. All he offered back was a resolute stare of distrust and the same repeated English words, &ldquoWhuu you wunn?&rdquo which were hard to make out from the viscosity of a thick Arabic accent. I assumed he was trying to communicate, &ldquowhat do you want?&rdquo

I had come from the old city of Jerusalem to meet this man with my Arab driver, Sammer, a local pizza shop owner named Jacob, and a Palestinian man named Achmed. Achmed was a crafty sort of guy who lived in the Silwan Village and I had paid him handsomely to bring about this prearranged meeting.

It was comforting for me to finally be inside the walls of this nefarious neighborhood under the protection of this village leader, or at least I hoped I had his safeguard. I hurriedly dug in my pocket and fumbled to remove my cell phone, which contained several pictures of the Silwan Village dating back to the 1870s. The images on the small screen showed the Silwan long before the place was choked with houses and scattered with so much refuse. The man took my phone and stared at it a long moment and to both my surprise and relief, the hint of a faint smile ripened across his heretofore dour face.

The local youths and men started to appear again, seemingly out of nowhere. Most of the crowd pressed in to see the phone&rsquos vintage imagery, trying to identify where their homes were now located and I began to find the swelling crowd tilting in favor of my presence. A few boys chuckled in delight and one man even patted me on the back as he pointed proudly at the historical imagery of his neighborhood on the luminescent face of my phone.

I was both pleased and relieved when the village leader shrugged his broad shoulders with a slight dip of his head and gestured me to follow him. It was a gesture I took as granting me permission to see the cliff area. I felt sure that even if I tried to tell him why this particular cliff was so important to me, he would never believe me. If my heart was not racing enough, it now shifted to a different gear, but that is exactly what I did not want to happen. I needed to stay focused as this would probably be a one-time visit, and a short one at that.

I walked closely behind the man, going east down a fence line as we maneuvered through the gap between houses. Off to my left, we startled a pit bull who lunged at me, straining against his stout chain and thick, leather collar. The dog was shaped like an engine block covered in brown fur and displayed a set of slobber-glistened teeth. I walked on and noticed off to our right a pair of mangy ribbed-thin cats hissing, apparently also startled by our sudden visit.

The smoldering smoke, the barking dog, the hissing cats and the boys shouting behind us made for an otherworldly experience. However, I was not concerned with the cacophony of distractions. I was actually standing at the foot of the stone cliffs I had come so far and had spent so much time and treasure trying to see: the cliffs of the Silwan village. I gazed up at several ancient split-open tombs, which were exactly as the Bible described! My mouth went chalk dry, &ldquoCould this be the place&hellipcould these cliffs actually be evidence revealing where Christ was crucified?&rdquo

I answered the phone in my office but really didn&rsquot want to. I&rsquod been working intensely on this book for twelve weary hours and the computer screen was becoming line after line of blurry text. I exhaled a tired &ldquoHello&rdquo and heard a gravelly voice cut in: &ldquoDo not write this book.&rdquo

The voice belonged to a well-known scholar and longtime friend, who, frankly, didn&rsquot know much about what I had researched, written, or discovered. But, he did know the subject matter was volatile.

I already knew suggesting an altogether new site for Christ&rsquos crucifixion would be controversial. But, to warn me not to even write about it out of concern of what critics would caustically say, or do, was alarming. This cautionary advice from my colleague surprised me because it came from a man well known for passing through the razor-wire gauntlet of critics who have opposed some of his own revolutionary interpretations of Scripture. Our short conversation ended bluntly with, &ldquoBob, you&rsquove built an international ministry from your explorations, research, and books. Don&rsquot risk it all now.&rdquo

After the call, I shut down my computer and stared into its uncaring face, which soon dissolved into a grey glow. I whispered uneasily, &ldquoHe is probably right.&rdquo

After all, who was I to proclaim that I may have discovered new evidence showing the actual place where our Lord was executed? And to my knowledge, it is where no one has ever looked before.

Catholics have held for 1,700 years that the place of the crucifixion is under a church in Jerusalem. In the fourth century, Roman Emperor Constantine proclaimed that his mother, Helena, had discovered through visions and dreams the exact place where Jesus was killed on a cross. A magnificent church was soon built upon that very spot. It was known as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and exists to this day.

After Constantine, and during the ensuing Middle Ages, a dark shadow of fear and superstition spread across Europe. It became an ominous place where demons were thought to be lurking around every corner and fairy tales handed down from generation to generation were believed to be real. Grey-haired sages with withered faces told horror stories around late-night fires, listeners quaking at the thought of goblins inhabiting shadows just beyond their doors. There was a palpable fear of priests, of missing Mass, and of soul-searing confessionals. Most of all, people were terrified of what they considered to be a vengeful and capricious God. If sudden lightning happened to split out of a brooding sky, whole villages would be sent into a panic, cowering under a perceived curse of God&rsquos punishing wrath.

The Dark Ages were also a time when staid ecclesiastical directives were not to be challenged and anyone doing so was considered to be a blasphemer. Those that were accused of being a heretic were often tortured till they recanted or, in more severe cases, chained to wooden pillars with straw spread at their feet. When the fire was set, the condemned frantically yanked on sooty chains that soon slackened in morbid silence. The message had been sent for all to see: no one should ever contest directives from clergy.

It was against this backdrop of paranoid and spiritually paralyzing fear that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher became the unchallenged location for Calvary. After all, the Church and its ecclesiastical hierarchy had certified it as the actual place of the crucifixion, the passage of time sealing it into a seemingly irrevocable vault of tradition.

When the stagnated fear of the Middle Ages had run its course and alternative religious constructs emerged, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was eventually questioned as being the true Calvary. For instance, in 1883 a famed British officer named General Charles Gordon boldly challenged the rightful pedigree of the Holy Sepulcher as the place of Golgotha. His proposed place for the crucifixion of Christ was nearby the Damascus gate.

While living for a time in Jerusalem, General Gordon observed what he believed was a skull-like formation in a rock cliff near his temporary residence. To him, Scripture suggested this as the &ldquoplace of the skull,&rdquo and thus, Christ&rsquos execution location. Due to Gordon&rsquos heroic status as a war veteran, the designation of the site steadily gained acceptance. Since Gordon was an avowed Protestant, as were the majority of his English countrymen, the notion of a different site than the Catholic Church of the Holy Sepulcher was appealing to many. A new tradition of Christ&rsquos execution, burial, and resurrection was conveniently born, to the delight of British Protestants.

Even though Gordon&rsquos Calvary and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are visited with swarms of sightseers daily, they are both fraught with many geographical flaws. Simply put, they do not align with Scriptural directives. These inconsistencies with the Bible will be examined in detail later on in this book.

An Old General and a Skull Face

All across Israel there are many so-called &ldquosuggested Holy sites&rdquo which are based on, at best, questionable historical lineages. Tour guides with an ounce of integrity would freely confess that many of the locations they tout as true have little to do with truth. In the Middle Ages, for instance, many ancient holy places earned their bronze shrines from little more than the bony raised finger of an old cleric, pointing with emotional certainty toward a patch of land. Having mysteriously declared the site as holy ground, it would be only a matter of time before another cathedral would rise out of the dust of Jerusalem at that very place. Centuries later, tour buses and religious throngs would crowd the polished marble floor of its adjoining gift shop.

Please do not misunderstand me, some popular tourist destinations make for accurate historical locations. Yet, the fact remains that many do not.

As a former police investigator, I discovered that every tick of the clock, every subtle breath of wind or splash of rain can forever eradicate fragile evidence. When investigating ancient Biblical events, the passage of time is infinitely crueler. As the years turn into centuries and the centuries meld into a forgotten past, even durable evidence can easily be lost in the murky morass of history. The Bible, however, says, &ldquo For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. &rdquo (Luke 8:17)

In this book, we will take a long journey to find that which has been hidden for two millennia. We will follow fading voices from antiquity that will guide us along dim pathways known only to the prophets. Scripture&rsquos magnetic compass will chart our way across vast wastelands of man-made traditions and mangled misinformation. By the end of the book we may, as improbable as it may sound, find ourselves lifting the candle of discovery to stand at the actual place where holy flesh was once nailed to common wood &hellip and the world was changed forever. That place is known to us today as Golgotha, or Calvary. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher holds a 1,700-year-old tradition of being the most popular location for Christ&rsquos death, burial, and resurrection. However, let us begin with Gordon&rsquos Calvary as we walk new steps upon ancient pathways. In 1883, Charles Gordon made a stunning pronouncement that he had discovered the true location of Calvary and it became a sensation&hellipbut not at first.

I first learned about General Gordon as a teenager in an old darkened theatre while watching the movie, Khartoum . Set in 1886 in Sudan, Charlton Heston starred as General Charles Gordon. I recall the film&rsquos spectacular desert scenery, framing rows of regimental British soldiers riding atop bellowing camels, poised for battle. The widescreen was soon filled with a cloud of dust, as opposing warriors charged into the fray with flags unfurled and the glint of sabers clashing under a cloudless desert sky.

At the end of the movie, Major General Charles Gordon made his last stand. The Muslim warriors breached the walls of the besieged British fortress at Khartoum and swarmed in for the kill. Charlton Heston made a heroic Gordon, standing ramrod stiff at the top of a flight of steps, completely fearless in the face of certain death. Running up the stairs towards him were a horde of frenzied, screaming warriors. However, they suddenly and inexplicably stopped. Only moments earlier, the Mahdists had rioted in wild and unrestrained fashion, shooting and shouting, but in the blink of the eye, when confronting Gordon, they froze like statues in a haze of lingering rifle smoke.

Gordon did not twitch so much as a muscle as he stood there staring down the paralyzed mob with his sword at his side. In that instant, a lone spear hissed through the air and embedded deep into Gordon&rsquos chest. The Muslims erupted into a frenzied rampage again. The scene ended as the camera panned to a building set ablaze, sparing us the following gruesome moments of history. In real life, Gordon&rsquos heroic death transformed him into England&rsquos beloved national hero, elevating him to a stature rivaled only by Queen Victoria herself.

As a kid watching this classic movie, little did I know my life would one day intersect with Gordon&rsquos story. No, I didn&rsquot face down Muslim hordes in the Egyptian Sudan like Gordon. But I did travel to Jerusalem many times looking for the lost place of Christ&rsquos crucifixion. In doing so, I wanted to learn more about the fascinating, enigmatic, and famous war hero whose name carried such weight in the search of Calvary. But in my own research of this man, I found a far darker and more complex side than Charlton Heston&rsquos character portrayed. I also discovered that the &ldquoGolgotha&rdquo he endorsed was riddled with many Scriptural and geographical flaws.

Before his demise at Khartoum, Charles G. Gordon lived for a time in the Holy Land. One day in 1883, he stood not far from the Damascus gate, staring intently at the craggy limestone cliffs nearby. His eyes were fixed on what he perceived to be the weather-carved features of a skull. In Matthew 27:33, Golgotha is called the &ldquoPlace of the Skull.&rdquo In the cliff face, Gordon observed a geological display of two small indentations like sunken eye sockets, and other rough &ldquofacial&rdquo contours that fit the appearance of a skull.

Two things convinced Gordon this was the real Golgotha placement: a skull-like facial feature carved into the cliffs and an ancient tomb nearby. In a letter to his sister written on January 17, 1883, he wrote these animated words on his second day in Jerusalem:

&ldquoI feel, for myself, convinced that the Hill near the Damascus Gate is Golgotha. From it, you can see the Temple, the Mount of Olives and the bulk of Jerusalem. His stretched out arms would, as it were, embrace it: &lsquoall day long have I stretched out my arms&rsquo. Close to it is the slaughter-house of Jerusalem quiet pools of blood are lying there. It is covered with tombs of Muslims. There are many rock-hewn caves and gardens surround it. Now, the place of execution in our Lord&rsquos time must have been, and continued to be, an unclean place. so, to me, this hill is left bare ever since it was first used as a place of execution. . It is very nice to see it so plain and simple, instead of having a huge church built on it.&rdquo  2

And then, as with so many theories that take flight on gossamer wings, Gordon forthrightly declared to the world that this skeletal image must be the true site of Calvary, a name derived, interestingly, from a Hebrew word identical to Golgotha. Even though his evidence for such a weighty claim was willow thin, his name and prestige alone carried with it a sizable dose of trusted credibility.

Not many initially bought into his theory however, his heroic death at Khartoum elevated him to what we would call today &ldquorock-star status.&rdquo Similar to the posthumous records sales after the untimely deaths of Elvis and John Lennon, Gordon&rsquos Golgotha decree spread virally across England and beyond. People want to hang on to their heroes and in death they are elevated to new heights of adoration. Following the events at Khartoum, &ldquoGordon&rsquos Calvary&rdquo location in Jerusalem experienced a meteoric rise in public approval. Admiring patrons flocked in droves to see the beloved Gordon&rsquos famous &ldquoskull-faced cliff.&rdquo It became a place revered as the true location associated with Christ&rsquos death.

So, who is Major General Charles Gordon really? Born in 1833 to the son of a senior British Army officer, his childhood and primary influences virtually assured the precocious young Gordon would carry on the family business. He joined the army when he was only sixteen years old and quickly found himself commissioned to the Royal Engineers in 1852. His bravery in the Crimean War did not go unnoticed, and he soon earned a reputation as a courageous and devoted soldier. During the bloody Taiping Rebellion, he further distinguished himself, playing a major role in halting that violent insurgency.

By the same token, Gordon also stood out for his oversized and egocentric lust for power and authority, with an extreme and dominating personality. The latter caused Lord Cromer to describe him as &ldquomad or half-mad.&rdquo An incessant smoker, heavy drinker, and, paradoxically, an unapologetically fervent man of prayer, Gordon became to those around him infuriatingly enigmatic and eccentric. But in battle, he was a great soldier and magnificently courageous. 3

It should shock no one that Hollywood&rsquos portrayal of Khartoum was far different than actual events. Prior to the overthrow of the fortress by Muslim hordes, for instance, heavy rains had gorged the White Nile, bringing floods that overflowed ditches and leveled ramparts on the western side of Gordon&rsquos southern line of defense. Land mines around the perimeter had been buried beneath thick slime and pooling water, and the receding river left a nearly mile-long quagmire of mud. If Gordon hoped the mucky conditions might have deterred the Mahdi warriors, he was mistaken. They saw their chance to storm the vulnerable fortifications, slogged their way by foot through a wide ribbon of glistening mud, and took the fortress.

Gordon probably spent much of the day before he died watching his enemies through a telescope as they loaded their camels and glided mysteriously through the trees. The siege had already lasted many months and the Muslim warriors&rsquo numbers had grown to a staggering size. I can envision him glancing up at the horizon and praying that the promised relief party of soldiers would soon arrive. They eventually would, but they came a few days too late to save the fortress, as well as Gordon.

Gordon may have been sleeping in the early hours the following morning, when the din of war drums cut through the darkness. It is said that a traitor opened the gates, letting in the rebels who raced through the streets amid rapid rifle reports while dervishes stormed the walls screaming &ldquoDEATH TO ALL!&rdquo

Gordon hastily donned his regimental uniform, grabbed his pistol and, with a sword at his side, went down to confront the invaders, knowing he would be dead in a matter of minutes. There are many versions of how he died, including the Hollywood version. The panicky chaos of those last minutes makes an accurate historical portrait of his death difficult. But a story from his bodyguard Khalil, who fought at his side, together with Mahdi warrior reports, give this account:

&ldquoThe British soldiers at the Fort laid down heavy rifle fire, but, in spite of that, the enemy used axes to break open the southern gate of the palace garden. They rushed up the stairs where Gordon was standing. A spear penetrated his right-hand, yet somehow he seemed to stop the rush with revolver fire directed into the surging mass of men. It seems he forced the dervishes to briefly withdraw, but another spear wounded his shoulder as the enemy forced themselves upon his position once again. Gordon fired with more shots, but when his revolver was empty, he had nothing left for defense but his sword. A dervish in the courtyard below placed a well-aimed rifle shot somewhere in the chest area of Gordon, knocking him backwards and into a wall. He somehow managed to get to the bottom of the stairs where he received a spear thrust into his right side. In the fury of the moment, no one actually saw Gordon die. His head was severed and carried in a leather bag to the Mahdi&rsquos camp. Two days later, the much awaited relief party of soldiers came in sight of Khartoum.&rdquo  4

On February 5 th , news reached London that Gordon was dead. The grisly news that his head had been paraded through the streets on a pike furthered the anguish of England. His remains were never found, but his fame lived on. An impassioned period of national mourning followed, as shop windows across London displayed pictures of the dead hero draped in black bunting. As news spread, the public outpouring of grief spilled far beyond Britain &ndash into Paris, Berlin, and as far as New York.

Distraught as well as outraged, Queen Victoria directed a scathing note to Prime Minister Gladstone who, due to his own political intrigues, pacifism, and perhaps professional envy, had clearly dragged his feet in ordering regimental assistance to rescue Gordon. Her scornful message accused the humiliated Gladstone of indirectly murdering the general. Songs and poems sailed off the printing presses as tributes to Gordon appeared throughout England in the form of memorials and boys&rsquo clubs. Within ten years of his death, more than twenty-five books, pamphlets and articles had been dedicated to Gordon&rsquos mounting legend.

Gordon&rsquos Calvary in Jerusalem, likewise, grew in equal standing, in large part because the fallen soldier had become a glorified hero. It is no surprise his proposed place of Calvary became a spiritual Mecca for zealous patrons inspired to behold their idol&rsquos skull mountain, standing in reverent awe where he had christened the new Calvary.

In that emotionally charged era, it is not shocking that few dared to sully Gordon&rsquos name by hinting that, perhaps, evidence of the rocky skull face as Christ&rsquos execution site was not all that convincing. Because of the British response to Gordon&rsquos martyrdom, his skull image in that stone cliff shot to heights of prominence as the true place of the crucifixion. To the predominantly Protestant citizenry of England, Gordon&rsquos Calvary provided a place of veneration other than the competing Catholic Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This story is certainly a fantastic one, predicated on a true-life narrative. However, I cannot help but wonder, &ldquoWhat if&hellip? &rdquo

What if Gordon hadn&rsquot died at Khartoum? He certainly would not have attained his adored status as a fallen idol across England. Had he lived that day at Khartoum, we probably would not have a tourist site today known as Gordon&rsquos Calvary. Before his death, his theory had not gained much traction at all. The evangelical Gordon was the &ldquopenultimate symbol of Victorian England&rsquos perception of the holy land.&rdquo  5

In Gordon&rsquos time, moreover, new sciences such as Darwinian evolution began to cast doubt upon certain long-held belief structures of society. People became confused with notions of how life emerged and survived without God&rsquos direct involvement. So when Gordon died, many Brits adopted a position that he had been martyred in service to both country and God. He became a sort of surrogate messenger from above who not only had defended the realm, but was also inextricably affixed to an important religious discovery that had reinforced a trust in God&rsquos Divine presence.

Reading between the lines of history, I have already alluded to another factor that clearly contributed to the perceived legitimacy of Gordon&rsquos Calvary. With the Roman Catholic, Greek, and Armenian Orthodox churches in control of the Holy Sepulcher, Protestant England&rsquos national aspirations of naming a competing holy shrine would have been immensely compelling. This is a prime example as to how enduring traditions are born. In the emotional wake of Gordon&rsquos heart-wrenching death, a prideful nation, wrestling with issues of faith, science, and culture, seized upon his brash proclamation anointing a new denominational monument to Christ the King.

Gordon&rsquos Calvary, also known as &ldquoJeremiah&rsquos Grotto,&rdquo is one of the more beautiful and serene settings in Jerusalem. I have been there and enjoyed it as a lush, cool oasis amid Jerusalem&rsquos clamor, chaos, and traffic. Visitors describe their &ldquogenuine experiences,&rdquo in some cases prompting them to linger for hours, meditating and praying in the green, manicured garden&rsquos shady calm. Some raise hands toward heaven, bathing the stone fortifications in songs of praise. I have felt a serene tranquility there myself. Whether it is the real place or not, our God delights in sincere praise and prayers whenever &mdash and wherever &mdash they&rsquore offered. It is not a conditional requirement that a place needs a connection to a holy event that matters, but rather a heart that is made holy from the event on the cross that matters.

It was only a few years after Gordon was killed that renewed interest swelled for placing the Garden Tomb as the site of Golgotha. Canon Tristan of Durham considered the place &ldquosimply priceless.&rdquo In 1892, the highest dignitaries in the English Church threw their full support toward the land&rsquos purchase and in 1893-94, a huge influx of subscribers, trustees, donors, scholars, artists, clergy, and patrons of the Garden Tomb secured the purchase of the land. This lifeless, dry scab of dirt would be irrigated, transforming it into a landscaped place of lush serenity that still holds exquisite beauty today.

But many were not convinced that this was the place of Christ&rsquos crucifixion and burial. The mystical views of Gordon, and other doubtful criteria, were not confirmation for many. So, in an attempt to appease most, the trust deed included these words, &ldquoThat the Garden and the Tomb be kept sacred as a quiet spot, and preserved on the one hand from desecration, and on the other hand from superstitious uses.&rdquo  6

Gordon today would be absolutely crushed to learn that the nearby &ldquoGarden Tomb&rdquo he adopted as the place where our Lord once lay had, in actuality, been chiseled out in the wrong era. I recently met with famed scholar and archaeologist, Gabriel Barkay, in Jerusalem. Barkay has done extensive analysis of the Garden Tomb. He told me the tomb there could not be the tomb of Christ, informing me that the traditional Garden Tomb was carved out of rock in the sixth century BC.

In Nelson&rsquos New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs , it states that the huge time gap between the original carving of Gordon&rsquos tomb and the date of Christ&rsquos crucifixion utterly disqualifies it as the &ldquofresh-cut&rdquo tomb mentioned in Luke 23:53. 7

Though Gordon chose it because of its close proximity to &ldquoSkull Mountain,&rdquo it&rsquos simply too old to be the tomb of Christ. The tomb cited in the Gospels where Jesus&rsquo body was taken was a recently cut tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea, &ldquo. in which no one had yet been laid.&rdquo Unfortunately for Gordon, according to tomb-dating experts, Gordon&rsquos &ldquoGarden Tomb&rdquo was at least 700 years old by the time Jesus died.

John 19:41-42 states that Christ was crucified in a garden and in a new tomb. &ldquoNow in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews&rsquo Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.&rdquo

Gordon&rsquos Garden Tomb is not only way too old to be from Christ&rsquos time, its dimensions are also problematic because it is cut to accommodate not one, but two bodies. In actuality, the Bible says nothing about the size of the tomb, only that it was &ldquohis&rdquo (Joseph of Arimathea&rsquos) new tomb.

&ldquoNow when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.&rdquo

In light of this Scriptural and archaeological evidence, Gordon&rsquos tomb theory seems sadly misdirected. I also found compelling graphic evidence which suggests the cliff did not always resemble a skull. A drawing of this same area from by a man named &ldquoSandy&rdquo in 1610 AD depicts Gordon&rsquos cliff with nothing resembling a skull-like aspect. Other photos as recent as the 1930s indicate what seems to be radical erosion of the shale-like limestone cliff. Using even the most facile powers of observation, there can be little doubt the area&rsquos capricious winds and rains continuously and relentlessly alter the cliff&rsquos appearance. In an online article, Jeff Baggett noted,

&ldquoThe Jerusalem site many Christians believe is &lsquothe Place of the Skull&rsquo has been forever altered. Located behind Jerusalem&rsquos bus station and adjacent to the Garden Tomb, the rocky escarpment with its two cavernous &rsquoeyes&rsquo has been linked to the events of Jesus&rsquo passion since the mid-19th century. Recent storms and erosion caused the collapse of the skull&rsquos &rsquonose&rsquo on February 20 th .&rdquo  8

Taking into account the cliff&rsquos steady, rapid, and irrefutable decay, it almost defies logic that it resembled a skull nearly 2,000 years prior to Gordon&rsquos visit to Jerusalem. Besides all that, and far more convincingly, according to Dr. Ernest Martin, &ldquoThe new testament writers were not actually suggesting that the place of Jesus&rsquo crucifixion, the &rsquoPlace of the Skull,&rsquo looked like an actual skull. They were, rather, referring to the term&rsquos original Aramaic meaning translated as the &rsquoplace of the head or the poll.&rsquo&rdquo  9

Photo of the traditional Golgotha rock face by Cornuke, 2014.

It should be noted here that many rock formations can be seen in and around Jerusalem today that more closely resemble a skull than Gordon&rsquos Calvary. Some suggest that his formation was shaped by a quarry as recently as three centuries ago.

&ldquoAnd they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it. And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take. Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.&rdquo

The verse in Mark describing Golgotha as the &ldquoPlace of a Skull&rdquo has been hotly debated through the centuries. There may be other options for that citation, of course, eliminating any connection to its physical appearance. Could it possibly be the place where David buried the skull of Goliath, or maybe ground which was littered with skulls from those crucified at the site?

New Testament Greek scholar Dr. William Welty, Executive Director of the ISV Foundation, helped me better understand the historical and cultural antecedents of these Scriptural references. I asked him to explain his understanding of the &ldquoplace of the skull&rdquo and received a thorough civic and linguistic exegesis:

&ldquoWe may eliminate on linguistic grounds the common notion held by those who have read the crucifixion narratives only in the English language translation that the term &lsquoPlace of the Skull&rsquo used by the Gospel writers to describe the crucifixion site refers to the apparent shape of the mountain. This is because the term does not refer to the geological appearance of the hill, but rather to the purpose for which the place was utilized. It was not a first century Israeli or Roman practice to name geological features after their visual appearance. Instead, if they were not named after a person of public importance or of historical significance, sites were named as an indicator of their public function. Accordingly, it is highly unlikely that the area known today as Gordon&rsquos Calvary was the site of the Messiah&rsquos death.

&ldquoWe suggest the term Skull Place, which is the literal translation of the Greek phrase Κρανίου Τόπος ( Kraniou Topos ), refers to the known use of an elevated portion of a hill directly east of the City of David. This area was probably used for undertaking head counts for census enumerations and other similar public functions. Think of the area as a form of public staging area where crowds of people were processed for a variety of civil and criminal administrative purposes. Matthew and Mark used the Greek directional preposition of ascent ἐπὶ τὸν Γολγοθα ̂ν τόπον ( epi ton Golgothan topon ), which may be translated literally as &lsquoUpon Golgotha Place,&rsquo and gives the first of two clear indicators as to the location of the crucifixion site. The preposition ἐπὶ ( epi ) connotes an ascending direction of movement that terminates in a location on top of the place designated i.e., at the ascent of a gathering place called by the Romans Golgotha. A second grammatical indicator of the crucifixion site is contained in John 19:17&rsquos exegetical narrative description of the entourage having to proceed out (Greek: ἐξη̂λθεν , exelthen ) of the city and then to enter into (Greek: εἰς , eis ) the vicinity of the area called by the Jews &lsquoSkull Place.&rsquo To sum up, the narrative recorded by all four Gospel writers informs us, when studied synoptically, that the entire entourage of soldiers and condemned prisoners were accompanied by a large crowd of onlookers. When they left the seat of Pilate&rsquos judgment, they proceeded out of the city, ascended to the top of a nearby hill, and gathered in a central area that was large enough to accommodate the presence of at least about 100 people, if not more so.&rdquo 10

In summation, a person of public or historical significance often earned recognition by having their name affixed to a place as a tribute to their public service. Gordon&rsquos Calvary is the Protestant&rsquos traditional &ldquoPlace of a Skull,&rdquo and whatever its real meaning, it certainly was not named after a rock that looked like a skull. Besides, after two thousand years of erosion the rock formation would have changed significantly in its features. Harsh erosion has occurred in the last one hundred years, and so two thousand years ago it must have appeared considerably different. It seems to me England&rsquos military hero may have assigned much more significance to a cliff with two holes in it than history would demand. This, along with the wrong dating of the tomb at the popular tourist place known as Gordon&rsquos Calvary makes it beyond difficult to reconcile it as the actual place of Christ&rsquos crucifixion.

As the Bible says, Christ&rsquos body was placed in a newly cut tomb never occupied by any postmortem resident, yet the tomb at Gordon&rsquos Calvary is around six hundred years older than Jesus.

As with Gordon&rsquos Calvary, or any other suspected Biblical site, heightened emotional attachments to a place does not certify it as the real location no matter how passionate one&rsquos declaration may be.

This is a except from Robert Cornuke&rsquos book, Golgotha, available from our store here .

Stunning 3D face of ‘jawless’ Stone Age man whose head was found on a SPIKE revealed

The skull was found in what used to be a small lake in Sweden back in 2012 but this is our first glimpse of what the man looked like 8,000 years ago.

What remained of his decapitated head was found with the remains of at least 10 other Stone Age adults and an infant.

Only one of the adults had a jaw and two of the skulls were placed on spikes intended to stick out above the surface of the lake.

One of the skulls without a jaw was used for the 3D facial reconstruction.

Oscar Nilsson, a forensic artist based in Sweden, created the fascinating example of a Stone Age man.

He used the skull and its anatomical and genetic information to create the bust.

The end result is a brown haired, blue eyed, pale man in his 50s with an impressive beard.

Nilsson took a CT scan of the skull and then had a replica made so he didn't damage the original.

Nilsson told Live Science: "In this case, there was no jaw. So, the first thing to reconstruct was his jaw."

The jaws of brown bears, wild boars, deers and moose were found in the grave so Nilsson let that inspire the man's wardrobe and hair.

Nilsson told Live Science: "He wears the skin from a wild boar.

"We can see from how the human skulls and animal jaws were found that they clearly meant a big deal in their cultural and religious beliefs."

He was also give short hair with a wisp at the back like a pig's tail.

The short hair also showed off a a 1-inch-long wound in the man's head.

This head injury showed signs of healing though and wasn't the one that killed him.

Chalk decorating the man's neck was based on Indigenous groups using chalk today and is more a bit of artistic licence than a fact.

Nilson explained to Live Science: "We have no reason to believe these people were less interested in their looks, and to express their individuality, than we are today."

What Type of Criminal Are You? 19th-Century Doctors Claimed to Know by Your Face

Can you tell who a criminal is just by looking at them? No you can’t, but that didn’t stop the idea from gaining traction in the late 19th century. Early criminologists in the U.S. and Europe seriously debated whether criminals have certain identifying facial features separating them from non-criminals. And even though there is no scientific data to support this false premise of a 𠇋orn criminal,” it played a role in shaping the field we now know as criminology.

This idea first struck Cesare Lombroso, the so-called �ther of criminology,” in the early 1870s. While examining the dead body of Giuseppe Villella, a man who𠆝 gone to prison for theft and arson, the Italian professor made what he considered a great discovery: Villella had an indentation on the back of his skull that Lombroso thought resembled those found on ape skulls.

𠇊t the sight of that skull, I seemed to see all of a sudden…the problem of the nature of the criminal𠅊n atavistic being who reproduces in his person the ferocious instincts of primitive humanity and the inferior animals,” he wrote in his 1876 book Criminal Man (which he expanded in four subsequent editions).

“Thus were explained anatomically the enormous jaws, high cheek bones” and other features 𠇏ound in criminals, savages and apes,” he continued. These features corresponded, he argued, to a “love of orgies and the irresistible craving for evil for its own sake, the desire not only to extinguish life in the victim, but to mutilate the corpse, tear its flesh, and drink its blood.”

Lombroso’s ideas led to a major shift in how western scholars and authorities viewed crime. Previously, many Enlightenment thinkers believed humans made choices about breaking the law of their own free will. But Lombroso theorized that a good portion of criminals have an innate criminality that is difficult for them to resist. Followers of this new school of thought placed an emphasis on removing 𠇋orn criminals” from society rather than seeking to reform them. Though the specific premise that physical features correspond to criminality has been debunked, its influence is still felt in modern debates about the role of nature vs. nurture, and even in the surprise after Ted Bundy’s arrest because the handsome law student 𠇍idn’t look like” a serial killer.

Italian criminologist and physician Cesare Lombroso.

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

What Lombroso was doing was combining phrenology and physiognomy, two types of pseudoscience that purported to explain a person’s personality and behavior based on his skull and facial features, respectively. White men before him had used these pseudosciences to advance racist theories, and now Lombroso was using them to develop the field of 𠇌riminal anthropology.”

Like his predecessors, Lombroso also relied on racist stereotypes. “Oblique eyelids, a Mongolian characteristic” and “the projection of the lower face and jaws (prognathism) found in negroes” were some of the features he singled out as indicative of criminality. Lombroso also laid out what types of facial features he thought corresponded to specific kinds of crime.

“In general, thieves are notable for their expressive faces and manual dexterity, small wandering eyes that are often oblique in form, thick and close eyebrows, distorted or squashed noses, thin beards and hair, and sloping foreheads,” he wrote in Criminal Man. “Like rapists, they often have jug ears. Rapists, however, nearly always have sparkling eyes, delicate features, and swollen lips and eyelids. Most of them are frail some are hunchbacked.”

Before publishing Criminal Man, Lombroso had taught psychiatry, nervous pathology and anthropology at the University of Pavia and directed the insane asylum of Pesaro from 1871 to 1873. After the book, he became a professor of forensic medicine at the University of Turin. To law enforcement figures at the time, he was considered an authority.

Examples of physiognomy of criminals illustrated from L&aposuomo Delinquente (Criminal Man), 1876, by Cesare Lombroso.

“He was tremendously influential,” says Diana Bretherick, a retired criminal lawyer with a PhD in criminology. “He was the first person to make crime and criminals a specific area of study, so that’s why he’s called the father of modern criminology." He was also the first person to write about female crime, she explains.

As an expert, Lombroso sometimes provided advice in criminal cases. In a case in which a man sexually assaulted and infected a three-year-old girl, Lombroso bragged that he singled out the perpetrator from among six suspects based on his appearance. “I picked out immediately one among them who had obscene tattooing upon his arm, a sinister physiognomy, irregularities of the field of vision, and also traces of a recent attack of syphilis,” he wrote in his 1899 book, Crime, Its Causes and Remedies. “Later this individual confessed to his crime.”

Translated versions of Lombroso’s books spread his ideas throughout Europe and the U.S. as Social Darwinism𠅊 warped version of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution—took hold in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of the scholars who subscribed to his theories was leading American sociologist Charles A. Ellwood, who became president of the American Sociological Society in 1924.

“The publication of Lombroso&aposs works in English should mark an epoch in the development of criminological science in America,” Ellwood gushed in a 1912 issue of the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, where he was an associate editor. Ellwood felt “Lombroso has demonstrated beyond a doubt that crime has biological roots,” and that his books “should be found in the library of every judge of a criminal court, every criminal lawyer and every student of criminology and penology.”

Equipment to measure skulls pictured in the Cesare Lombroso Museum in Turin, Italy. The museum of Criminal Anthropology was created by Lombroso in 1876 and opened to the public in 2009.

Alessandro Albert/Getty Images

Lombroso also inspired others to perform studies of criminals in order to determine the 𠇌riminal type.” Earnest A. Hooton, an anthropologist at Harvard University, measured more than 17,000 people in the 1930s and concluded that 𠇌riminals are inferior to civilians in nearly all of their bodily measurements.”ਏrancis Galton, the racist British anthropologist who coined the term 𠇎ugenics,” created composite images of “The Jewish Type” and influenced Nazi thinking, also tried and failed to come up with his own catalogue of criminal features.

Not everyone agreed with these ideas. After Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy met Lombroso, he ridiculed his theories in the 1899 novel Resurrection. And while Alphonse Bertillon—the French policeman who pioneered the mug shot and a system for measuring criminals—thought physical features could disadvantage a person, thus making her more likely to turn to crime, he disagreed that those features were directly linked to criminality.

Still, Lombroso’s ideas about the 𠇌riminal type” outlasted him. When casting M, a 1931 movie about a child-killer in Berlin, filmmaker Fritz Lang said “my idea was to cast the murderer aside from what Lombroso has said what a murderer is: big eyebrows, big shoulders, you know, the famous Lombroso picture of a murderer.”

Modern facial-recognition technology—which is more likely to mis-identify people of color—has again raised the spectre of Lombroso’s 𠇌riminal type.” In 2016, two researchers at China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University published a paper arguing that they had used facial-recognition technology to pinpoint features that corresponded to criminality. One of the study’s flaws, critics pointed out, was its assumption that the population of people convicted of crimes accurately reflects the population of people who commit them.

Early criminologists couldn’t have predicted modern facial-recognition technology, but even scholars before them could foresee the moral problems it raises. In the 18th-century, the German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg warned about the dangers of taking “physiognomy” seriously: “one will hang children before they have done the deeds that merit the gallows.” One might also overlook Ted Bundy, with his symmetrical features and clean-cut looks, as a potential suspect.


Without a skeleton or remains that can be categorically confirmed as Jesus, and a lack of physical descriptions in the New Testament, many previous images have been based either on the society in which the painter or sculptor lived, or hearsay.

With this in mind, Dr Neave, formerly from the University of Manchester, used a technique called forensic anthropology as well as fragments of information from the Bible, to create the portrait that may resemble the religious figure, Popular Mechanics reported.

Jesus is traditionally shown as a Caucasian man with long, flowing brown or dark blonder hair in religious art, (a mosaic in Istanbul, Turkey is shown) but would have likely had a darker complexion

Dr Neave, formerly from the University of Manchester, used techniques typically used to solve crimes, to create the portrait as well as fragments of information, such as a Biblical account saying Jesus closely resembled his disciples. A side view of 'Jesus' is shown

The technique uses cultural and archaeological data, as well as techniques similar to those used to solve crimes to study different groups of people.

The team hypothesised Jesus would have had facial features typical of Galilean Semites of his era, based on a description of events in the Garden of Gethsemane, written in the New Testament in the Gospel of Matthew.

He wrote that Jesus closely resembled his disciples.

Dr Neave and his team X-rayed three Semite skulls from the time, previously found by Israeli archaeologists.


No physical description of Jesus is found in the Bible

But he's typically depicted as Caucasian in Western works of art, but has also been painted to look as if he was Latino or an Aboriginal.

It's thought this is so people in different parts of the world can more easily relate to the Biblical figure.

The earliest depictions shown him as a typical Roman man, with short hair and no beard, wearing a tunic.

Medieval art in Europe typically showed Jesus with brown hair and pale skin. This image was strengthened during the Italian Renaissance, with paintings such as The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci showing Christ with long, flowing hair (part of the famous painting shown above).

It's thought that it's not until 400AD that Jesus appears with a beard. This is perhaps to show he was a wise teacher, because philosophers at the time were typically depicted with facial hair.

The conventional image of a fully bearded Jesus with long hair did not become established until the 6th century in Eastern Christianity, and much later in the West

Medieval art in Europe typically showed him with brown hair and pale skin.

This image was strengthened during the Italian Renaissance, with famous paintings such as The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci showing Christ.

Modern depictions of Jesus in films tend to uphold the long-haired, bearded stereotype, while some abstract works show him as a spirit or light.

Dr Neave (pictured) and his team X-rayed three Semite skulls from the time, previously found by Israeli archaeologists. They used computer technology to work out how the muscles and skin should look, upon which they based a 3D model (seen on the computer screen) and a clay bust of Christ (right)

The experts built a digital 3D reconstruction of the face (shown) before creating a cast of the skull and adding layers of clay to match the thickness of facial tissues calculated by the program

They used computerised tomography to create ‘slices’ of the skulls to uncover details that make up their structure.

They then used specialist programs to calculate important measurements and work out how the muscles and skin should look.

Analysis of the skulls (cast shown) did not reveal the colour of Jesus’ eyes or how his hair looked. This was instead taken from accounts in the book of Paul

From this data, the experts built a digital 3D reconstruction of a face, before creating a cast of the skull and adding layers of clay to match the thickness of facial tissues calculated by the program.

Features including the eyes, lips and nose were then estimated to follow the shape of the underlying muscles predicted by the shape of the skulls.

Of course, analysis of the skull did not reveal the colour of Jesus’ eyes or how his hair looked.

So Dr Neave’s team studied first century artwork from various archaeological sites, created before the Bible was written.

From these works, they hypothesised Jesus had dark eyes and likely had a beard, in keeping with Jewish traditions at the time.

The Bible also offered a clue as to how Christ wore his hair - short, with tight curls, unlike many Renaissance depictions, for example.

This comes from a Bible passage by Paul, who wrote: ‘If a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him,’ suggesting Jesus did not have this hairstyle.

However, it contradicts the long-haired image seen in the Shroud of Turin, which is believed, by some, to bear the image of Christ when he was wrapped in a cloth after his death on the cross.

The team analysed skeletal remains of Semite men from the time of Jesus to come up with the average build of a Jewish man living in Galilee.

From this, they suggested Jesus was likely around 5ft 1inch tall (1.5 metres) and weighed around 110lbs (50kg).

They also theorised he would be more tanned and muscly than traditionally depicted in Western art, because he would have worked mostly outside as a carpenter until he was 30.

Dr Neave, the author of book of Making Faces: Using Forensic and Archaeological Evidence, has reconstructed many famous faces including Alexander the Great’s father, King Phillip II of Macedonia.

The Bible offered a clue as to how Christ wore his hair - short, with tight curls, unlike many Renaissance depictions, for example. A painting by Titian is shown left. But the description contradicts the image seen in the Shroud of Turin (right), which is believed, by some, to bear the image of Christ with longer hair


Researchers are using ancient grape seeds and genetic testing to recreate the ancient wines drunk by Jesus Christ, King David and their contemporaries.

They have found around 120 unique grape varieties that appear to be indigenous to Israel, 50 of which were domesticated and 20 are suitable for wine production.

Dr Elyashiv Drori, an oenologist at Ariel University who is leading the research, is also using seeds found at the ruins of Jewish temples alongside shards of clay marked in ancient Hebrew with the words 'smooth wine' to find out if these varieties were used to make wine.

His team is using these to identify rare grapes growing in isolated locations around Israel that may match these ancient varieties.

Jesus is depicted as drinking wine in the Bible (a picture of the Last Supper is shown) but scientists are now attempting to resurrect some of the grapes used at this time to make wines he may have consumed. They are using ancient DNA from seeds and comparing them to varieties in Israel before turning them into wine

They hope their work may eventually be possible to use the ancient fruit DNA to engineer vines that can produce these grapes again.

The research team have been given $750,000 (£497,600) to identify ancient Israeli grape varieties.

Among the other grape seeds the researchers are looking into include those found in donkey droppings found in Timna.

This region is home to copper mines that date to the 10th century BC when King Solomon ruled.

Dr Drori believes the animals may have been fed pomace, the residue left after winemaking.

In total, the researchers are attempting to create wine from 30 different grape varieties found growing on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and in the foothills of Jerusalem.

His team are using DNA testing to match these existing grapes to those ancient remains thought to have been used in wine making in the past.

Among those are Dabouki, which might be one of the oldest of the Israeli varieties and could be a good candidate for one of the wines drunk by Jesus and his disciples.

Beneath the bust

Underneath the painted stucco surface of the Nefertiti sculpture, the artist hid a gem that perhaps was never meant to be revealed. The sculptor Thutmose made a separate bust of Nefertiti underneath the stucco, and this one was made of limestone.


The CT scan revealed a face that was still very much beautiful, but revealed wrinkles on her cheeks and a bump on her nose. Nefertiti mothered six children in her time, and one of them became the mother of King Tut. What&rsquos far more unsettling is that King Tut&rsquos father is Nefertiti&rsquos husband, which would explain the deformities that plagued the boy king.

This CGI Program Shows What Historical Figures May Have Really Looked Like

According to The Chive, “Forensic scientists examine the skulls of the deceased, using the grooves and bumps along the bone as a foundation for the layers of 3D flesh,” which is exactly how they are able to mould these predictive models of historic, ancient figures. Take a look below!

1. King Tut

King Tut, formally known as King Tutankhamen, was buried in a mummified mask, meaning that we basically had no idea as to what he looked like in the 18th dynasty. His mask was pretty much the only proof that we had of his existence! Until now, of course.

2. St. Anthony

Known as the patron saint of finding lost items and belongings, St. Anthony was a priest and was known for his incredible knowledge of scripture. While he is best-known for his knowledge in the religious order, there was little to no knowledge of what he looked like.

3. Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce was the King of Scots from 1306 to 1329 when he died. He led the wars of Scottish independence against England and is one of the best-known warriors of his generation. There were never any pictures or paintings of him, despite his heroic acts being well-documented over time.

4. Nicolaus Copernicus

Copernicus was a Renaissance mathematician. He was also the first astronomer who showed a model detailing that the sun was the center of the universe and not the earth. He made huge contributions to the field of science and was incredibly smart in multiple fields of knowledge.

5. Henry IV of France

King Henry IV was King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. When his mother, Queen of Navarre, passed away he then inherited the throne.

6. Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach, otherwise simply known as Bach to many musical artists today, he was a German musician and composer in the Baroque period. A sculpture of him was used to create the above CGI image. Pretty cool!

Read onto the NEXT page for more historical figures reconstructed by CGI…

Heavily pregnant EastEnders star Kellie Bright counts down the days to birth

Follow The Sun


©News Group Newspapers Limited in England No. 679215 Registered office: 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF. "The Sun", "Sun", "Sun Online" are registered trademarks or trade names of News Group Newspapers Limited. This service is provided on News Group Newspapers' Limited's Standard Terms and Conditions in accordance with our Privacy & Cookie Policy. To inquire about a licence to reproduce material, visit our Syndication site. View our online Press Pack. For other inquiries, Contact Us. To see all content on The Sun, please use the Site Map. The Sun website is regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)