Undoubtedly one of the most divisive and powerful names in the history of modern culture is that of Jesus Christ. But while the debate surrounding his presence, actions, and significance has persisted for millennia, few have thought to wonder what he might have looked like.
The conventional image that many of us have of Jesus is derived from a variety of famous artworks, including the likes of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper and Diego Velazquez’s Cristo Crucificado. For that reason, he’s often pictured as tall and fair-skinned with long, flowing, fair hair. Yet the truth is that men from the area of Galilea – now in northern Israel – during the time that Jesus is reported to have lived didn’t adhere to the picture in any respect.
To help clear up the mystery of what he may have looked like, back in 2002 a forensic facial reconstruction specialist and former medical artist in the University of Manchester named Richard Neave recreated the face of a normal resident of Jesus’s home region in the first century C.E.
Working together with Israeli archaeologists, Neave got three Galilean Semite skulls that had been observed in the region around Jerusalem. Then he utilized automatic tomography to make 3D cross-sectional pictures of these skulls to be able to reveal their whole structure. This allowed a computer program to produce a mock-up of what the fully-fleshed faces could have looked like.
Equipped with this information, Neave managed to construct a 3D cast of a normal skull of a guy from Jesus’s area and time period. Layers of clay were subsequently added to the, in agreement with the precise information supplied by a computer program designed to ascertain the depth of soft tissue in particular points on individual faces.
While this allowed Neave to generate a version of what Jesus’s face could have looked like, he and his team had to rely on historical drawings found at archaeological sites across the area to be able to estimate the look of his eyes, hair, and skin tone. The final product can be found from the Tweet above.
Naturally, this shouldn’t be taken as a definitive historical model of what Jesus looked like, but only represents an accurate depiction of how he might have appeared. Moreover, perhaps the results are slightly different using more advanced methods, since the analysis is over a decade old. No matter the precision of Neave’s mock-up, it is guaranteed to be more faithful to fact than this effort by an older Spanish girl at restoring a prized fresco.