There are many intriguing historical figures, but just how much do we know about them? The images we have of them mostly come from sculptures, portraits, and paintings. However, it is hard to tell how accurate they are. Luckily, modern technology has made it possible to find out exactly what they looked like!
King Tutankhamun was the Egyptian ruler from 1332 to 1323 BC. He was only in power for a decade. In 1922, his tomb was found by Howard Carter. Before then, it had been sealed for over 3,200 years! They found treasures and artifacts in his tomb. These things were added to accompany him after death.
What King Tut Really Looked Like
After they conducted DNA studies, scientists figured out just how awful his health had been. He was frail, tall, and suffered from a bone disorder, a broken leg, a club foot, and malaria! Many believe that it was due to inbreeding. It also explained why he was always depicted sitting down.
Nero was 17 years old when he became the Roman Emperor. Five years into his reign, he had his mother killed and become more active in politics. People undermined him since he was an actor, poet, musician, and charioteer. He also raised taxes for public and private works, so he was hated by the higher classes!
What Nero Really Looked Like
Spanish artists made a realistic rendering of him with the help of busts, drawings, and descriptions. They got his physical attributes down to a tee. What did he do during a fire in Rome in 64 A.D? He got dressed, headed to the roof, and sang. Before his execution, he said, “What an artist dies in me!”
A limestone bust of the Great Royal of Akhenaten was found covered in stucco. It is believed to be created by Thutmose of Amarna back in 1345 B.C. They discovered it in his workshop in 1912. Based on the sculpture, Nefertiti had a defined and beautiful face. Was this the truth or an artistic rendition?
What Nefertiti Really Looked Like
Using digital and 3D tools, Expedition Unknown mapped the face of “The Younger Lady.” The remains are thought to be Nefertiti’s. After scanning the face, Elisabeth Daynes recreated the face for 500 hours. She used the historical images of the queen. In the end, it seemed to confirm the theory!
Robert The Bruce
From 1306 to 1329, Robert the Bruce was the ruler of independent Scotland. He helped win Scottish independence during the guerrilla war with England. In June 1314, he won the Battle of Bannockburn. Edward II did not grant independence, which caused the Scottish nobles to write to the pope about it!
General and politician Julius Caesar helped the expansion of the Roman Empire. He crossed the Rhine River as well as the English Channel during the invasion of Britain. Under arms, he reentered Rome via Gaul, which sparked a civil war. Luckily, there were many sculptures of him that helped recreate his face.
What Julius Caesar Really Looked Like
This bust of Caesar is in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. With the use of 3D tech, they scanned a portrait of him on which they based the 3D reconstruction. After winning the civil war, Caesar became a dictator and started reforms. He even gave citizenship to people in the outermost parts of his empire. However, the Senate did not approve of such changes and murdered him in 44 B.C.
Cleopatra ruled over Egypt for almost 3 decades. At the age of 18, she started her reign with her younger brother, Ptolemy XIII. However, she got ran out of the country by his advisers in 49 B.C. She was reinstated with Ptolemy XIV, her other brother, with the help of Caesar. She had a child called Ptolemy Caesar, who is generally thought to be her child with the Roman dictator. Sadly, Ptolemy XIV died soon after Julius Caesar was assassinated. In the end, Cleopatra continued ruling Egypt with her son.
What Cleopatra Really Looked Like
Cleopatra was a highly-educated ruler who knew several languages. It was part of the reason she went on to be the dominant ruler and co-regent. She was also good at seduction and formed alliances with her fellow leaders. 3D artists used sculptures and portraits to recreate her face. Many expected her to look just like Elizabeth Taylor, so her masculine attributes and prominent nose might come as a surprise.
Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I ruled England and Ireland from 1558 until 1603. Born to Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, she was declared illegitimate when they got annulled. Years later, she ascended the throne. There were a lot of paintings that depicted her face. Mat Collishaw decided to dig deeper in 2018, however.
What Queen Elizabeth I Really Looked Like
He made a hyper-realistic animatronic mask with eyes and a mouth that moved! A mirror is installed in it, and it can be found in the Queen’s House. Across it is the so-called Armada portrait that showed her in her prime although it was made when she was 55 years old. It is actually a pretty accurate depiction!
William Shakespeare is one of the most important figures in literature. Many scholars and historians agree that his Martin Droeshout engraving accurately depicts him. He still sported facial hair even though he had been balding. Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel discovered his death mask in London in 1975. Back then, they made these masks by pouring wax or plaster on the face of the deceased.
What William Shakespeare Really Looked Like
Dr. Caroline Wilkinson relied on the death mask for the facial attributes in her rendering back in 2010. With the help of 3D imaging, she made this rendering of the playwright. People think it looks like the other depictions of the bard. He passed away at the age of 52 on the 23rd of April 1616.
George Washington was the first president of the United States. His term lasted from 1789 to 1797. He got elected during the 1787 Constitutional Convention after the War for Independence. The Founding Father is an important historical figure, so his face is everywhere! But did he actually look like that?
What George Washington Really Looked Like
Researchers used his portraits to make a computer-generated rendering of him. Based on it, paintings of Washington seem authentic. The rendering is realistic enough that it captured his five o’clock shadow and full head of hair. He was 67 years old when he passed away on the 14th of December 1799.
Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary Stuart, better known as Mary, Queen of Scots, ruled from 1542 to 1567. Her reign started when she was just 6 days old since her father died soon after her birth. She grew up in the French court and only returned to Scotland in 1559. Do you think it was really what she looked like?
What The Queen Of Scots Really Looked Like
Dr. Caroline Wilkinson used drawings and paintings to make this 3D rendering of the queen. Aside from this, she relied on biographical information to make it truer to like. It might look pretty similar to classic paintings, but there are key differences. Her nose has remained consistent in these depictions, however.
King Richard III only ruled England for 2 years. However, his reputation has not been so good. He was branded a tyrant by Shakespeare, and he was replaced by the Tudors. He led an attack against the Tudor army during the Battle of Bosworth Field, although it was a rather easy defeat for his crew.
What Richard III Really Looked Like
In 2012, they were able to recreate a photo of Richard III. They found his body, thought to be lost, in an underground parking lot back in 2012. Researchers from Dundee University used this image of him to make a rendering of him. The researchers relied on historical records since he has no realistic paintings.
Meritamun is a word that translates to “beloved of the god Amun.” Researchers from the University of Melbourne introduced it after they found her skull in the archives. It remains a mystery how her remains got there. She was a Great Royal Wife of Ramesses and was buried in the Valley of the Queens in Egypt.
What Meritamun Really Looked Like
The only thing they had on her was the skull but they found out more things about her. She had been 18 to 25 years old at the time of her death, but the cause is a mystery. Her tooth decay made them think that she liked sweets. This sounds right since Alexander III introduced sweets to Egypt around that time!
Come on, how can you possibly tell us that you do not know this guy. Jesus Christ is the biblical figure believed to have risen from the dead, made the blind see, converted water to wine, and walked on water. In the end, they crucified him for the greater good. Did the depictions get his attributes right?
What The Real Jesus Christ Might Have Looked Like
The Bible did not describe him, but evidence has shown that he did not look like most modern depictions. With the use of forensic anthropology, British and Israeli archaeologists were able to make this rendering of him. As you can see, the common pictures of him do not match his appearance!
The Lord Of Sipan
The Lord of Sipan was discovered among the Moche mummies. Archaeologists working in Peru found the remains in 1987. It was a huge deal since they found so many bodies! This person had been buried with many treasures. Let us take a look at how they managed to bring him to life once more.
What The Lord Of Sipan Really Looked Like
The team faced a challenge because the pressure of the sediment caused the skull to break during the excavation. They were still able to reconstruct the skull by using photogrammetry on the 96 fragments. This image was made by the Brazilian Team of Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Odontology.
Born in 1195, Saint Anthony died at just 36 years old. However, he was famous when he was alive because he could reportedly heal the sick. He was canonized quickly after his death. He was the second-fastest one to be canonized! Just one year after he passed away, he was declared the saint of lost things.
What Saint Anthony Really Looked Like
It was said that children cried and bells rang out by themselves after his death. His body was exhumed 3 decades after that, but researchers only retrieved his tongue and jawbone. This project had been a collaboration between the University of St. Anthony of Padua and the University of Sao Paolo.
King Henry IV
King Henry IV is also known as “Good King Henry” and “Henry the Great.” At the age of 19, he was crowned the King of Navarre. Two months later, he married. Protestants entered the city to celebrate, but it turned into the “St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.” He almost died and went to the French court.
What King Henry IV Really Looked Like
It is believed that there had been 13 attempts to murder him. He was chosen for the project because the researchers liked his religious tolerance. Philippe Charlier and Philippe Froesch brought him back to life. The last attempt on his life proved to be successful. A Catholic man stabbed him in 1610.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Born in 1685, Johann Sebastian Bach went on to be one of the most famous musicians ever. The composer had been a musical prodigy. He started out on the organ, but it was his church music compositions that made him famous. Very few people have managed to achieve the same things he did.
What Bach Really Looked Like
Dr. Caroline Wilkinson used his skull cast to recreate his likeness. Bach was buried in an unmarked grave for some time. They only found the body a century and a half later when the church he was buried in was renovated. They saw a skull they thought was his. The image below was the result of the project.
Simon Bolivar is a military leader from Venezuela who was integral to the revolution against Spain. He was born into a wealthy family and studied in Spain. While in Europe, he became part of the resistance. When Spain was invaded by France, he was dubbed “El Libertador.” He passed away from tuberculosis.
What Simón Bolívar Really Looked Like
They were not lying when they told us that looks can be deceiving. This might seem like a real photo, but it is nothing more than a recreation. The forensic imagery team, with the help of the Venezuelan government, perused historical documents and spent a year on them. That was how they made this!
There was a time when Earth was thought to be the center of the universe. Nicolaus Copernicus was the man who proved everyone wrong. Born in Poland in 1473, he made the sun-centered model we all know. Over the course of his life, he traveled around Europe. Let us see what he looked like back then.
What Nicolaus Copernicus Really Looked Like
Old depictions of the scientist showed him as a gaunt and hollowed man. They used modern technology to make an accurate depiction of him. In the end, he still looked miserable. It’s not unusual for geniuses!
The Lady of Cao
Researchers in the El Brujo region of Peru had been studying the site for decades. In 2005, they were able to discover the Lady of Cao. She had simple clothes and thought to have died back in 400. Experts believe she was Moche and of the aristocracy thanks to the various artifacts found in her grave.
What The Lady Of Cao Really Looked Like
Not long after they found the body, she was taken to the museum and stored in a climate-controlled room. A looking glass separates her from visitors. Even to this day, no one knows what her role in society had been. Believed to be in her late 20s at the time of her death, they think she was sacrificed.
St. Nikolaos of Myra had been a 4th century Christian saint. Also called St. Nicholas, he was a Turkish bishop known for his generosity and caring nature. He would leave presents in the shoes of kids left outside the house. It was how the tradition started! Can you believe that he was actually a real person?
What St. Nicholas Really Looked Like
He is now called Santa Claus. However, he does not look a lot like what you might think. He was from Turkey, so he was likely darker and more Middle Eastern than photos depict him. Westerners often think that historical figures have the same features as them. Clearly, this is false.
Giovanni Battista Sidotti
Giovanni Battista Sidotti was an Apostolic missionary born in 1668. He went to Japan on a mission to spread Christianity. This was dangerous back then, so he used a samurai disguise. He got caught and then locked up until he died in 1714. A lot of people consider him to be “the last missionary.”
What Giovanni Battista Sidotti Really Looked Like
His remains were found more intact than usual. In 2014, they discovered the body through a 2 million-yen excavation. With his remains, they were able to recreate him. While damaged, the skull had been intact enough for the forensic anthropologists to carry out the project.
The Mycenean “Griffin Warrior”
In 2015, they found a tomb site dating back to the Bronze Age. Thought to be from 1450 BC, it had a male skeleton inside. Archaeologists uncovered 14,000 things from weapons to jewelry. There was also engraving that made them think that the man buried there had been a warrior or a priest!
What The Mycenean “Griffin Warrior” Might Have Looked Like
They used the remains to determine that he had been 5’4”, which was tall back then. They also found combs that made them think this warrior had long hair. Anthropologists Tobias Houlton and Lynne Schepartz used the skull to create this digital rendering. He likely had close-set eyes and a strong jaw!
Dante Alighieri is the author of the Divine Comedy. He was one of the most notable poets in Italy during the Middle Ages. He described Hell and Heaven, with some of his descriptions becoming part of the Christian canon. On top of that, he was also a philosopher. He was 56 when he passed away in 1321.
What Dante Alighieri Really Looked Like
Many portraits of the poet exist, and they seem to have the same features. In general, he was depicted to have a Roman nose and stern face. The team used CGI to create this rendering of him. It was based on his skull measurements! The results showed him with a rounded jaw, a softer face, and bigger eyes.
Maximilien Robespierre is an important figure in French history. He wanted the universal manhood suffrage, abolition of slavery, and religious tolerance. He was a key figure in the establishment of the First French Republic and was elected deputy of the National Convention. But what did he look like?
What Maximilien Robespierre Really Looked Like
In 2013, Philippe Charlier and Philippe Foresch worked to make this rendering of the lawyer-politician. They used his death masks and artworks of him. Apparently, Madame Tussaud herself made the death masks! Of course, she used his decapitated head to make them since he was executed in July 1794.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on the 27th of January 1756 in Salzburg. He died in Vienna on the 5th of December 1791. This important classical musician was a keyboard and violin prodigy. At the age of 5, he had already been playing for royalty! He was able to compose over 600 pieces over his lifetime.
What Mozart Really Looked Like
He suffered an untimely death. Pierre-Francois Puech reconstructed his face based on his preserved head. Mozart had a rather distinctive bone rim protection, which lent his face a more feminine look. Aside from that, he had white hair, a short head, blue eyes, and high cheekbones!
Ramesses the Great or Ramses II was born in 1303 BC. The 3rd pharaoh of the 19th Egyptian Dynasty, he ruled from 1279 until 1213 BC. He had 48 to 50 sons as well as 40 to 53 daughters! Whoa. He died at the age of 90. Many consider him to be the greatest New Kingdom pharaoh!
What Ramses II Really Looked Like
He was buried in the Valley of the Kings. They later moved his body to a royal cache. Priests were worried about looting, which is why they rewrapped and relocated his remains to the tomb of Queen Ahmose Inhapy. They later moved it to that of Pinedjem II. They made this discovery back in 1881.
Tiberius was born on the 16th of November 42 BC and died on the 16th of March 37 AD. He reigned from 14 to 37 AD. The son of Livia Drusilla and Tiberius Claudius Nero, he went on to become the second Roman emperor. “In a free state there should be freedom of speech and thought,” he once said.
What Tiberius Really Looked Like
He passed away when he was 78 years old, but no one can confirm the cause of his death. Some said he was smothered by his sheets, but some believe Caligula murdered him. You can visit the Tiberius Palace in Rome. The tourist spot is located on the Palatine Hill, and we highly recommend checking it out!
General, statesman, consul, and architect. Marcus Agrippa was all of these things! He was born in 63 BC and became Augustus’ best friend and right-hand man. Many buildings in Rome had been designed by him. He helped bring Rome to victory during the Battle of Actium against Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
What Marcus Agrippa Really Looked Like
In 12 BC, he died in Campania at the age of 51. Augustus held a big funeral and a long mourning period for him. The emperor also looked after his children after he died. While Marcus Agrippa already prepared a tomb for himself, he had been placed in Augustus’ mausoleum instead.
The Huarmey Queen must have been important in the Wari culture. They lived on the coasts by the Andes Mountains and the south-central Andes areas from 700 to 1000 AD. Her remains were found in El Castillo de Huarmey in the Ancash region. She had been buried there together with 57 other nobles!
What The Huarmey Queen Really Looked Like
In an attempt to make her look more realistic, they gave her a physical form. The discovery of this mausoleum had been so fascinating since they found her and the other noblewomen sitting in rows of fives. They also saw jewelry, bowls, and many other artifacts buried in the tomb with her.
Saint Zdislava Berka
Saint Zdislaya Berka is also known as Havel of Markvartice. A Czech saint, she was married to the Duke of Lemberk. This strict but generous woman founded a convent. She lived from 1220 until 1252. She was canonized on May 21, 1995.
What Saint Zdislava Berka Really Looked Like
In 2018, they made a digital forensic reconstruction of her. Doesn’t it look incredibly real? They were able to create such a realistic portrayal with the use of her remains, particularly her cheekbones and jaw structure.
The Roman emperor Trajan was born in September 53 and ruled from 98 until his death in 117. The Roman Senate called him the optimus princeps, which means “the best ruler.” He is known to be a great soldier-emperor and led the greatest Roman military expansion.
What Trajan Really Looked Like
The team used a marble bust of him for the reconstruction. Archaeologists think that it was made in 113 AD. The quality of the piece made them think the artist saw him in person. The statue had been split into 356 fragments during its discovery. The theory is that it broke because of an earthquake.
Achavanich is a Northern Scotland site. The horseshoe-like site was where they discovered the remains of someone they referred to as ‘Ava.’ At the time of her death, she must have been 18 to 22 years old. It is incredible to think that she must have been alive over 3,700 years ago.
What ‘Ava’ Really Looked Like
Maya Hoole and Hew Morrison teamed up for the ‘Achavanich Beaker Burial Project.’ They reconstructed the face of the woman they found. The project allowed them to learn more about her and the Bronze age. With the use of the DNA, they were able to bring her back to life!
Otzi The Iceman
Otzi The Iceman roamed Earth anywhere from 3400 to 3100 BCE. The well-preserved mummy also goes by the Man from Hauslabjoch, the Similaun Man, the Tyrolean Iceman, and the Hauslabjoch mummy. He was discovered in the Ötztal Alps back in September 1991. He is the oldest known natural mummy in Europe! He is now in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.
What Otzi The Iceman Really Looked Like
The mummy gave everyone a chance to learn more about Europe in the Copper Age. The body had been preserved well since it had been in the ice for around 5,300 years. This allowed them to make a naturalistic reconstruction. This would have been impossible if his body had deteriorated!
Owain Glyndwr did his best to stop the English rule of Wales during the late Middle Ages. Born in 1359, this Welsh rebel ruled from 1404 until his death in 1415. He was depicted as a wild king in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1.
What Owain Glyndwr Really Looked Like
‘The Face of Glyndwr’ showed what it was like to reconstruct his face. They used CGI and 3D tech to bring him back to life. The team even said, “We have come as close as anyone ever will to finding out what the Welsh rebel actually looked like.”
Emily Dickinson is a famous American poet. She was born in Massachusetts back in 1830 and attended an all-girls school. Her childhood had been an isolated one, and the same went for her adulthood. She passed away in 1886. Four years later, her works were given the recognition they deserve.
What Emily Dickinson Really Looked Like
It is difficult to imagine what she looked like, so modern technology is a blessing. She was beautiful just like her words are. She might have lived over a century ago, but we can now see what she looked like!
Marie Antoinette was born an Austrian Princess in 1755. She ended up becoming the last person to be the Queen of France since it was during her husband’s reign that the French Revolution took place. She had been a pawn in the politics of Europe. She was known for her decadent tendencies.
What Marie Antoinette Really Looked Like
With the use of technology, we can now see what her physical attributes were like. She wore many gowns back then. We bet she would look just like a modern woman if she wore a business-casual outfit!
American exhibition shooter Annie Oakley was born in 1860 and died in 1926. The sharpshooter was 15 when she beat Frank E. Butler, who later became her husband. They ended up joining the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. She once said, “I ain’t afraid to love a man, I ain’t afraid to shoot him either.”
What Annie Oakley Really Looked Like
Her photos showed everyone that she was one stunning lady! Reconstructive artists gave us an even better idea of her appearance. Don’t you think that she would look right at home in the 21st century?
What A 500 Year Old Dubliner Really Looked Like
In 2014, the remains of a 500-year-old man had been unearthed. He was accompanied by four other people. There was evidence of malnutrition and heavy manual labor. Experts believe that these were indicators of low socioeconomic status. They figured out what this man looked like with the help of his skull.
Jane Of Jamestown
Jane was only 14 years old at the time of her death. It seemed like her co-settlers in Jamestown ate her! They discovered her skull and leg bones in a cellar in 2012. She had been alive during the 17th century. Times were rough back then, and people had to resort to such measures for survival.
What Jane Of Jamestown Really Looked Like
Dr. Douglas Owsley is a forensic anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution. He discovered the marks and cuts inflicted upon her body in an attempt to get her bone tissue and brain. This made sense since the 1609 winter was hard for the folks at Jamestown.
Mary Rose Archer
In 1545, the Mary Rose warship sank while it was battling the French. It was part of the navy during the rule of King Henry VIII. They only found it almost 500 years after its sinking! They discovered the remains of many crew members. One of the people on the ship had been an archer.
What A Mary Rose Archer Really Looked Like
Algae and marine organisms gave them a hard time during the analysis. Even so, they learned a lot of things about this man. He had been 6 feet tall and used a longbow. This was what he looked like.
Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns was born in 1759 and died in 1796. He was 37 at the time of his death. He worked on “Auld Lang Syne” and “The Battle of Sherramuir.” His skull was used to bring him back to life!
What Robert Burns Really Looked Like
He is a celebrated figure. After all, he is the national poet of Scotland. Researchers worked hard to see what he looked like back in the day. This looks like a very accurate portrayal of him, if you ask us!
What A Medieval Maiden From Edinburgh Really Looked Like
Experts found over 400 bodies at the burial grounds of the South Leith Parish Church. The remains came from the Middle Ages. They were excavated in 2009 for a new train system. They found a woman in the communal grave. Her cause of death is believed to have been the plague or an infectious disease.
What A Beachy Head Lady Really Looked Like
The Beachy Head Lady was thought to have been European Roman alive in the 3rd century. They later learned that she was sub-Saharan African instead. Joe Seaman said, “Whether that means that she’s the first generation, we don’t know. She could possibly have been born in Africa and brought over here at a very young age, but it’s just as likely that she was born here.”
What Robert The Bruce Really Looked Like
While he does not appear in contemporary art, the University of Glasgow obtained the skull of Robert the Bruce. Before, artists only based his statues and portraits on word of mouth and imagination. Face Lab technology, legal artifacts, and archaeological data were used for this reconstruction. Pope John XXII recognized Robert I as the king of Scotland, although he ended up dying five years later.