FACES OF OUR ANCESTORS

An Exhibition on the Occasion of Mikhail Gerasimov’s Centenary

The exhibition was supported by the Russian Academy of Sciences Program for Basic Research Project Adaptations of Peoples and Cultures to Environmental, Social, and Technogenic Changes

 This exhibition marks the centenary of the famous Russian anthropologist, sculptor and archaeologist, founder of the method of facial reconstruction from the skull – Mikhail Gerasimov (1907 – 1970), who authored numerous documentary portraits, graphic and sculptural, of ancient people and of historical personalities. Gerasimov’s works are renowned in Russia and abroad both for their scientific accuracy and reliability, and for their artistic merits – an inimitable liveliness of performance. Attempts to reconstruct the appearance of ancient people were made before Gerasimov, but thanks to him facial reconstruction has become an independent academic discipline. Each of his reconstructions is a scientific document, a work of art, and an image of a living person.

“He was endowed with an incredible imagination, an extra-logical knowledge utterly incomprehensible to us, and, in addition, a phenomenal outsight,” his friend Academician Boris Rauschenbach recalled, “Mikhail Mikhailovich noticed everything, even things to which others would never have paid attention. This inborn observation, requiring no extra efforts on his part, was part and parcel of his talent. Without this amazing gift he would hardly have elaborated the method of reconstructing human appearance from the skull.”

Thanks to Gerasimov, physical anthropology has become a focus of attraction for thousands of lay people. For many of them, this discipline has come to be closely associated with his name.

The exhibition addresses Mikhail Gerasimov’s personality and method, and presents glimpses of his academic and artistic work. Ten selected sculptures provide an idea of how people who had lived in different regions from France to China in various epochs, from the Lower Paleolithic to the Early Iron Age, looked. This is just a tiny part of a vast gallery of documentary images created by Gerasimov.

Mikhail Gerasimov’s Career
Mikhail Gerasimov as an Archaeologist
Reconstruction of the Face from the Cranium
“Sinanthropus” (Member of the Species Homo Erectus)
Homo Neanderthalensis (Neanderthal man)
Neanderthal Child from Teshik-Tash
People of the Upper Paleolithic
Men of the Mesolite epoch
Men of the Early Metall Epoch
Drawings by M.M. Gerasimov