About 200 kilometres east of Moscow, on the outskirts of the city of Vladimir, lies one of the earliest records of modern humans in Europe. Discovered in 1955, the Sunghir site contains several graves and tens of thousands of artefacts made from ivory, mammoth bones, fox teeth, stone and other materials.
It is believed to have been a seasonal camp, most likely used while hunting, and scientists using analysis of soil layers, pollen traces and carbon dating, have dated it to between 30,000 and 30,400 BCE.
One of the graves at Sunghir contained the remains of two adolescents, a girl of around 10 and a boy of around 13 years of age. They were buried with great ceremony and elaborate paraphernalia including clothing, spears, and large numbers of ivory beads.
The image above is a detailed reconstruction of the face of the boy. It was created by the scientific visualisation company Visual Science, who worked closely with scholars from the RAS Institute of Anthropology and Ethnography in Moscow.
The steps of the reconstruction process are shown below: they began by creating a detailed laser scan of the skull, then applied sophisticated reconstruction techniques to add soft tissue to the model and determine what the boy would have looked like in life.
Michael Lucy is a former features editor of Cosmos.
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