The Luís Lopes Skeletal Collection Project consisted in a blind study for which four facial approximations were created based on the analysis and interpretation of four skulls (A, B, C and D) from the Luís Lopes Collection of human skeletons located at the Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência, University of Lisbon, Portugal.
The Collection holds personal documentary data for each individual which, in the case of the chosen individuals, include antemortem photos of the subjects. These images, revealed upon completion of the approximations, provided the rare opportunity to evaluate the accuracy of the sculpted faces through direct comparison between the approximations and the original visages, and also through a survey developed for the purpose of assessing their reliability to promote the correct identification of the target individuals.
The results suggest that the bony structure of the skull encloses, to some degree, the pattern which defines the unique character of each face and that it is possible to build a physiognomy sufficiently close to the original with the potential of triggering recognition.
The following videos summarize the main steps of the construction of the approximations: (1) the reassembly of bone fragments and remodeling of absent areas; (2) preliminary two-dimensional studies; (3) modeling of the main muscle groups of the head; (4) demarcation of the facial boundaries by application of soft tissue depth markers; (5) deduction of the external facial features through the use of specific methodologies; (6) final comparison with the antemortem photos of each subject.