Germany gives its most famous pirate a face

25th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

7 January 2005 , HAMBURG - Germany's most famous and fearsome pirate has been given a face by forensic scientists more than 600 years after he was beheaded and his head nailed to a pole in Hamburg harbour. Klaus Stoertebeker was a bearded, wild-haired warrior with steel-blue eyes, a missing front tooth and a face hardened by years at sea, according to a reconstruction in the northern German city. The pirate, who plundered ships of the powerful Hanseatic League in the North Sea and Baltic Sea, was executed

7 January 2005

HAMBURG - Germany's most famous and fearsome pirate has been given a face by forensic scientists more than 600 years after he was beheaded and his head nailed to a pole in Hamburg harbour.

Klaus Stoertebeker was a bearded, wild-haired warrior with steel-blue eyes, a missing front tooth and a face hardened by years at sea, according to a reconstruction in the northern German city.

The pirate, who plundered ships of the powerful Hanseatic League in the North Sea and Baltic Sea, was executed in Hamburg in 1402 and his head nailed to a pole as a deterrent to others.

What was believed to be the pirate's skull was discovered by construction workers 130 years ago - and has now been reconstructed using the latest forensic techniques.

The reconstruction, which is to be shown in a documentary on German television Sunday, means historians can throw away all previous illustrations of the country's best-known pirate, which bear little resemblance to the version now on show.

Scientists in Bonn produced a copy of the pirate's skull with the help of a computer tomograph. Forensic experts at the police anthropology laboratory in Paris worked out its facial features, which were then formed in clay by French artist Elisabeth Daynes.

However the Museum for Hamburg History admits it is still not absolutely certain whether it really has captured the face of Stoertebeker, or whether it belongs to another pirate.

Scientists now intend to use DNA technology - matching samples from the skull with those of Stoertebeker's possible descendants - to ascertain for sure whether they have the pirate's head.

Museum official Ralf Wiechmann said that whatever the outcome he expected the exhibit to be a crowd-puller.

"It definitely belongs to one of the privateers who were executed. And to be able to look a real pirate in the eye is quite something," he said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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