Facial image of biblical Jews from Israel

E. Kobyliansky, T. Balueva, E. Veselovskaya, B. Arensburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present report deals with reconstructing the facial shapes of ancient inhabitants of Israel based on their cranial remains. The skulls of a male from the Hellenistic period and a female from the Roman period have been reconstructed. They were restored using the most recently developed programs in anthropological facial reconstruction, especially that of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Balueva & Veselovskaya 2004). The basic craniometrical measurements of the two skulls were measured according to Martin & Saller (1957) and compared to the data from three ancient populations of Israel described by Arensburg et al. (1980): that of the Hellenistic period dating from 332 to 37 B.C., that of the Roman period, from 37 B.C. to 324 C.E., and that of the Byzantine period that continued until the Arab conquest in 640 C.E. Most of this osteological material was excavated in the Jordan River and the Dead Sea areas. A sample from the XVIIth century Jews from Prague (Matiegka 1926) was also used for osteometrical comparisons. The present study will characterize not only the osteological morphology of the material, but also the facial appearance of ancient inhabitants of Israel. From an anthropometric point of view, the two skulls studied here definitely belong to the same sample from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine populations of Israel as well as from Jews from Prague. Based on its facial reconstruction, the male skull may belong to the large Mediterranean group that inhabited this area from historic to modern times. The female skull also exhibits all the Mediterranean features but, in addition, probably some equatorial (African) mixture manifested by the shape of the reconstructed nose and the facial prognatism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-190
Number of pages24
JournalAnthropologischer Anzeiger
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Ancient Jews
  • Facial reconstruction
  • Israel


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