Some researchers at Jilin University have successfully simulated the original appearance of two 1,000 year-old mummies using 3-D technology recently. It is the first time for China to simulate the original appearance of the ancient mummies using this technology.
The two mummies, a man and a woman, were unearthed in a tumulus group in Turpan in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and were later collected by Lushun Museum in northeast China’s Jilin Province. The male mummy is about 45 years old with his beard, hair, eyelashes and eyebrows well preserved. It is obvious that his beard has been well trimmed and looks very tidy. Another mummy is a female adult with her accurate age unknown. She is heavily built with a small nose, mouth and teeth and slanting eyes.
According to Zhu Hong, vice president of the Literature School of Jilin University and head of the Border Area Archeology Center, the simulation was successfully carried out by two young researchers with 3-D technology, filling a gap in the simulation of ancient mummies in China. Many new and effective scientific methods have been applied to the simulation, laying a solid foundation for future research.
The center was entrusted by Lushun Museam to simulate the two mummies from Xinjiang. The portraits of the mummies have been decorated with popular clothing and hair ornaments of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) and look very real. The portraits indicate an elegant and middle-aged man and a plump woman in a towering wig.
Months ago, the center successfully made the skull portrait of a woman’s corpse found in Beijing in the Laoshan Han Tomb dating back to Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 24). Researcher Lin Xuechuan said that no researchers inside China have created 3-D animation of a mummy yet. Though the center is experienced in storing skull appearances, they had formidable difficulty in restoring that of the mummy because some soft tissue was still attached to the skull of the mummy, which made it hard to gauge in contrast to ordinary skulls.
Professor Zhu Hong said that the toughest job in storing its appearance was how to acquire accurate data for the skull. After deliberate research and consultation, researchers found a way to acquire relevant data by inserting a needle into the soft issue.
A standard needle was inserted into the skin allowing researchers to test skin depth data by gauging a partially inserted needle into the skin with a vernier caliper, and consequently gathering accurate data on the skull. It took them four days to acquire accurate data with a tolerance of 0.1 millimeter.
Lin Xuechuan and Wei Dong then began storing it in a computer. By now, they have completed storing the 3-D appearance of the skull.
After referring to relics and written materials unearthed together with the corpse and some historic documents, they have added clothes and hairstyle as adopted by middle class figures at that time.
Astana-hala and Zhuogu tombs are public tombs for ancient Gaochang urban and rural officials and inhabitants. These tombs that hold senior officials as well as ordinary inhabitants have a history of 1,200 – 1,700 years.
(China.org.cn translated by Wang Qian and Alex, April 30, 2003)