Luis Castedo Zapata, a forensic anthropologist, has successfully led the effort to reconstruct the faces of three skulls with facial deformities dating back 3,000 years to the Tiwanakuian civilization, which existed in South America between 300 CE and 1150 CE.
“Approximately 96 percent of the physiognomy (has been reconstructed) with the work carried out so far this year. The remaining parts correspond to the reconstruction of the skin and its color,” said Castedo Zapata.
He explained that the reconstruction process, which done with the assistance from Bolivia's Ministry of Cultures and Tourism, begins with a chronometric study to take the measures of each skull and facial features. Next, liquid latex (rubber) is applied on the scalp to produce a replica in plaster ceramic for facial reconstruction. Surgical gauze is attached to the structure to strengthen the mold. Subsequent modeling, which starts with the location of the cranial meningocele points, serve as references for comparative studies of the cranial features.
Bolivia's National Museum of Archeology will host an exhibit presenting the reconstructed skulls and faces in May. The project, so far, has incorporated the use of 3D technology to reconstruct three skulls. One of the skulls is presumed to be that of a child that was two years old, and the other two are adults between 25 and 45 years of age.
Also known as the Tiahuanaco culture, these people comprised a critical pre-Columbian civilization. Their territory stretched around the borders of the current nation states of Bolivia, Peru, and Chile, according to researchers.
The name of their capital city, also called Tiahuanaco, was situated near the southeast coast of Lake Titicaca. Some researchers believe the name derives from the Aymara word, Taypikala.
Founded as a small village, Tiahuanaco would expand to become a great regional power, home to roughly 40,000 people in the Southern Andes.