Sculptural reconstruction

Variatibility of masticatory muscles in man

Process of sculptural reconstruction of a head


Facial reconstruction from a cranium – the critical stage of the process. A special putty is used for modeling. First the lower jaw is attached to the original skull or to its exact replica with regard to habitual occlusion, and masticatory muscles are modeled.

Next the skull is fixed according to a presumably habitual poise.

The next stage is to apply crests marking the standard thickness of soft tissues. The main crests pass along the profile and across the face. Then other crests, passing via specified points, are applied to the cranial vault and to the face. This network of crests generates the head contour and, to reconstruct the soft tissues, it only remains to fill in the intermediate spaces. Next the eyeball is sculptured and placed according to individual parameters of the orbit. Finally, forehead, nose, mouth, and ears are modeled according to Gerasimov’s methods.

Initially one half of the face is reconstructed. To reconstruct another half, individual asymmetry of the cranium must be taken into account. Final touches include the adjustment of minor features, the modeling of folds and wrinkles that are of critical importance for the portrait.

The process of sculptural reconstruction of a head:

(a) cranium in three aspects
(b) principal crests marking the thickness of soft tissues
(c ) modeling of the face

As a last stage, neck and torso are sculptured, coiffure and clothing are modeled, and final touches are added. Presumed size and shape of beard and moustache are based on physical type, whereas hairstyle and clothing match archeological and historical evidence.

Ivan the Terrible . Process of reconstruction
Ivan the Terrible . Process of reconstruction
Tsar Ivan the Terrible. Reconstruction by M.M. Gerasimov. 1964.

Mikhail Gerasimov’s Career
Mikhail Gerasimov as an Archaeologist
Reconstruction of the Face from the Cranium
The Predecessors
Elaboration of the method
Stages in the reconstruction process
Cranium description
Graphical reconstruction
Sculptural reconstruction
Fields of application
Further development of the method
“Sinanthropus” (Member of the Species Homo Erectus)
Homo Neanderthalensis (Neanderthal man)
Neanderthal Child from Teshik-Tash
People of the Upper Paleolithic
People of the Mesolithic
People of the Early Iron Age
Drawings by M.M. Gerasimov