Meet the ancestors - exhibition reveals faces of prehistoric humans

Meet the ancestors - exhibition reveals faces of prehistoric humans

1st January 1970, Comments 0 comments

Former French make-up artist turned palaeontology expert and sculptor Elisabeth Daynes, has painstakingly created a model of Pataud woman.

Her clothes are made from fur, hemp and nettle and for decoration she sports ivory and bone beads. She has dark hair worn in dreadlocks, tattoos and a penetrating stare.

Dubbed  "the woman from the Pataud shelter", little is known about this figure from prehistory -- except how she might have looked.

Although the dreadlocks and tattoos are pure conjecture, modern scientific techniques mean the facial features of a long-dead person can now be accurately reconstructed.

Believed to have lived around 17,000 years ago in France's southwestern Dordogne region, her skeleton was found there in a rock shelter.

The life-size model is one of two star attractions at an exhibition being held at a Bordeaux gallery entitled "The Origins of Flesh -- our ancestors as you've never seen them before".

The other model has been named "Chancelade Man" and is also based on remains found in the region in 1888.

His reconstructed face appears pensive. He has blue eyes, deeply lined skin and long, thinning grey hair. The skeleton was found beneath the floor of the same Dordogne rock shelter.

Daynes started out as a make-up artist and maker of hyper-realistic theatrical masks at the Theatre du Nord in Lille.

But for 30 years now she has been recreating the faces and bodies of our ancestors from hominid fossils in her studio in eastern Paris.

Painstakingly recreated

Likenesses are obtained by the computer modelling of 18 craniometric data points across the skull.

These give detailed pointers to muscle structure and shape of features that define a face such as the nose, chin and forehead.

"My work is done just like a forensic investigation, from casts taken from prehistoric skulls, reconstructed exactly like police