Face to face with the past came the audience at the Acropolis Museum in Athens on Friday evening when professor Manolis Papagrigorakis and his team unveiled the resurrected appearance of “Avgi” (Dawn), an 18-years old girl who lived around 7000 BC era in ancient Greece.
“I was fascinated by the fact that she was from 7000 BC,” professor of Orthodontics at the University of Athens, Manolis Papagrigorakis told Xinhua after the event.
This is the second reconstruction after “Myrtis”, the first facial reconstruction of an 11-year-old girl whose skull was unearthed in excellent condition from a mass grave with victims of the plague that struck Athens of 430 BC.
Eight years after “Myrtis” came to life again, Papagrigorakis and his team presented to the public “Avgi”.
The remains of the girl named after the dawn of civilization in Greece were discovered by archaeologist Nina Kyparissi-Apostolika in the cave of Theopetra, near Trikala city, located in central Greece, 330 km north of Athens in 1993.
According to Theopetra chief archaeologist Nina Kyparissi-Apostolika, the remains provide the first confirmed existence of a Mesolithic human in the region of Thessaly, in central Greece.
During the process of reconstruction, professor Papagrigorakis defined certain characteristics of the girl through medical indications found in the remains.
“Examination of the bones indicated the skeleton was that of a 15-year-old, while the teeth showed she was 18 years old. These three years are especially important and show that something has changed in the parameters when we want to define the age of a person from the bones and the teeth,” he explained.
“The second significant element is that the girl was suffering from anemia and lack of vitamins,” he added.
A team of 30 experts was involved voluntarily in the facial reconstruction of Avgi, including an endocrinologist, an orthopedic, a neurologist, a pathologist and a radiologist.
“During these hard times, it is comforting to see that Greek people support culture and offer what they can,” Papagrigorakis noted highlighting the lack of funding of such important projects.
They did not define her hair and eye color, as they needed more funding for DNA test, as Papagrigorakis said.
The reconstruction of her features which took over a year to come to an end involved an international team and a Swedish laboratory led by sculptor Oscar Nilsson, whose studio specializes on historical body reconstructions.
For the team, the facial reconstruction is greatly expected to enhance current understanding of Greece’s history and culture, and especially the aspects of life in Mesolithicera.
Papagrigorakis said that with “Myrtis” faced more difficulties than with Avgi.
“I had to decide event the last detail of the expression of her face. With Agni I did not have expression issues as she has a prognathous jaw. That means that she used her mouth to soften animal skin or something like that. Her bite is normal, but her rest position is functional overbite. That is why she has that expression,” professor explained.
Before unveiling the face of “Avgi” at the event, a number of experts contributed with very interesting remarks covering a wide range of scientific topics, from archaeology, art history, and architecture to economy, law, psychology, prehistoric gastronomy and aesthetics.
The lights in the auditorium dimmed as professor Papagrigorakis presented a short video of the steps in the reconstruction and revealed the resurrected appearance of Avgi on the display. Everyone was blown away by the result.
Now that “Agni” is reborn, he wishes to follow “Myrtis” steps and send a strong message to the world.
The United Nations Regional Information Center made Myrtis a friend of the Millennium Development Goals and used her in the UN campaign “We Can End Poverty”. In February, a stamp with her face will be launched.
Currently, the team is working on the third reconstruction of the skull of a girl from Feres in Magnesia prefecture who was about 5.5 years old when she died in the 5th century BC.
“Her remains were found in an unlooted tomb with her toys, as her father placed her when she died. It is nice because there is a grave stele with a poem written by her father which has also been preserved,” Papagrigorakissaid who revealed that he named her Idyle.
But for Papagrigorakis, it is important to pass the knowledge gained on to other experts and students through summer schools in Greece and exhibitions abroad, including in China.