The Face Of A Greek Teenager That Lived 9,000 Years Ago During The Mesolithic Era Has Been Reconstructed

The 18-year-old teenager's skull was found inside of a Greek cave and has been carefully reconstructed to show the evolution of facial features over time.

A 9,000-year-old Greek Mesolithic teenager has had her face reconstructed.
David Silverman / Getty Images

The 18-year-old teenager's skull was found inside of a Greek cave and has been carefully reconstructed to show the evolution of facial features over time.

The remains of an 18-year-old teenager have been discovered in a Greek cave, but what makes this particular teenager so special is that she lived 9,000 years ago during the end of the Mesolithic era and scientists have been able to completely reconstruct her face, making us the first people to have gazed at her since around 7,000 BC.

Archaeologists have christened the woman with the name Avgi, the Greek word for dawn, and chose this name because in their opinion she lived through a time of great upheaval and change, during what many believe to be the dawn of our civilization.

While it is unclear what her life may have been like at the time she died, or even how she did die, a large team consisting of an orthopedist, neurologist, pathologist, radiologist, and endocrinologist have spent many hours painstakingly reconstructing the 9,000-year-old Greek teenager’s face, and officially unveiled their work at the Acropolis Museum last week, according to National Geographic.

Speaking at the Acropolis Museum’s event, orthodontist Manolis Papagrigorakis explained that while the bones of this woman initially showed her to be 15 years of age, it was her teeth that were able to definitively show that she was indeed around 18 years old at the time of her death, “give or take a year.”

Aside from the large group of doctors working to reconstruct the woman’s face, sculptor and archaeologist Oscar Nilsson also assisted the team as he has much experience when it comes reconstructions like this. Nilsson readily admits that the Stone Age is his favorite era when it comes to his work.

“The Stone Age is this enormously long period so unlike our age, but we are physically so alike.”

Avgi’s remains were first discovered inside the Theopetra cave in Greece in 1993, a location which has seen activity over a lengthy period of time at 130,000 years. In order to reconstruct her face, Oscar Nilsson used a CT scan to examine her skull and then used a 3D printer to obtain a lifelike image to work with.

“Onto this copy pegs are glued, reflecting the thickness of the flesh at certain anatomical points of the face.”

Skull measurements help to determine the 9,000-year-old Greek teenager’s features, but the color of her eyes and skin reflect traits that are common in this particular region of Greece.

When the University of Athens and Nilsson previously worked on the reconstruction of an 11-year-old girl’s face from 430 BC, it showed that there was a steady softening in the facial structure of females over the 7,000-year period that had elapsed between Avgi and the 11-year-old girl named Myrtis.

Having worked to reconstruct the faces of both males and females that lived during the Stone Age, Oscar Nilsson determined that over time the two genders eventually evolved so that women today look much less masculine than they would have in the far distant past, but this is also the case for men.

“Avgi has very unique, not especially female, skull, and features. Myrtis, still a child, does not differ at all in the features we find around us today. Having reconstructed a lot of Stone Age women and men, I think some facial features seem to have disappeared or ‘smoothed out’ with time. In general, we look less masculine, both men and women, today.”

With technology developing at such a rapid pace today, we can expect to see many more of the facial reconstructions that have allowed us to see how both the 9,000-year-old Greek teenager and the 12-year-old girl from 430 BC once looked.