Ötzi the Iceman @ Mummy Tombs




His Three Faces


Artists have reconstructed Ötzi's face three different times. Here is what he has looked like over the years:

Face 1 (1993):

Artist John Gurche reconstructed the Iceman's face despite limited data in the early 1993. By feeding the data from CT-scans of Ötzi's skull into a 3D computer imaging program, Gurche was able to see what the Iceman's skull might have looked like. He then sculpted the skull before he could add the facial features. He used tissue depth measurements from modern-day European men to determine the thickness of Ötzi's face. These factors may have made the final result more art than real life. 


Face 2 (1998):

A second reconstruction was done after the Iceman was transferred to Italy in 1998 to be housed in his very own museum. Museum officials wanted a new reconstruction based on the latest research and facial reconstruction techniques.

Professor Peter Vanezis of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, a forensic medical specialist, performed the reconstruction. This time, the 3D imaging produced a replica skull for Vanezis. According to a BBC program about the Iceman, Vanezis "then used a laser to scan the skull into his facial reconstruction system. This measured the proportions of the skull and shapes a generic face to match. This allowed him to recreate Ötzi's face at last."

Of course, a generic face is not quite the same as the Iceman's real face. But it was this face, attached to a life-sized figure of the Iceman, that greeted museum visitors in Bolzano, beginning in 1998. 


Face 3 (2011)

Information about a PBS Nova program on the latest Iceman autopsy, from 10/26/11s

A third reconstruction was done for the twentieth anniversary of the Iceman's discovery. Alfons and Adrie Kennis, paleontological artists (twin brothers) from the Netherlands, used a new replica of the Iceman's skull. Based on 2010 CT-scans of the Iceman's skull as well as other data, the replica was created using stereolithography. In this method, a machine used for creating plastic prototype models constructed the skull of Ötzi more accurately than the previous two replicas. 

The latest face makes the Iceman look older: his skin is wrinkled and leathery, his face is drawn and haggard. He clearly has been through a lot in his life. (And notice in the video link below that the new reconstruction has brown eyes, unlike reconstruction #1 with its blue eyes. This is based on the latest research.)

Here is a YouTube video of this third reconstruction done for the National Geographic. You can read more about a NOVA episode at PBS and order a copy of the DVD here.


And to get a much better close-up view of the Iceman on the European Research website that has scanned the Iceman, follow this link.