MAKING FACES (Texas a & M University Anthropology Series)

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9780890967843: MAKING FACES (Texas a & M University Anthropology Series)

Introduces forensic archaeology, describes how human faces are reconstructed from skeletal remains, and explains what this can reveal about the past

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Forensic archaeology has come into its own in recent years. The science has been making news in odd corners of the world for being used to identify the remains of long-lost Japanese soldiers on remote Pacific islands and for examining whether 19th-century American presidents might have met with foul play. In this accessible study, archaeologists John Prag and Richard Neave look into the world of "making faces"--reconstructing human forms from bits of bone, giving physical presence to the long-since dead. Among their subjects are King Midas of ancient Greek legend and the famous "bog man" of Lindow Moss, England.


Making Faces is not always easy reading because of an unusually high proportion of convoluted 100-word sentences. What's more, the rather stiff and pedantic style favored by Prag and Neave belies the intrinsic, if not morbid, fascination of their subject matter, sometimes keeping us at arm's length from the individuals about whom they write. Nonetheless, the book is a trove of fascinating, if highly miscellaneous, information about the art and history of the ancient Mediterranean region. -- Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review, Ian Tattersall

Using what they describe as thoroughly scientific methods, the authors have reconstructed the faces of unidentifiable skulls for the British police, with such success that they have been recruited to make a number of such reconstructions for archaeologists. These jobs require historical research, caution in handling decrepit bones, and some guesswork in filling gaps. The authors' encounters with Philip of Macedon and King Midas lead them into antique medicine and myth. Their work with the badly damaged skulls behind the gold masks at Mycenae produces faces that would look well at the local of commerce. Bog bodies present a different set of problems, handsomely solved. The account given by Mr. Prag and Mr. Neave will please anyone interested in their technique or their subjects. Readers averse to old bones will not benefit from it. -- The Atlantic Monthly, Phoebe-Lou Adams

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