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Neolithic Woman’s Remains Reconstructed in Sweden

Friday, March 18, 2022

HÄRNÖSAND, SWEDEN—Live Science reports that forensic artist Oscar Nilsson has reconstructed the face and physique of a woman who lived some 4,000 years ago. The woman’s remains were discovered along with the remains of a child in a cist grave in northern Sweden in 1923. Nilsson noted that the woman had been in her late 20s or early 30s when she died, and she stood about four feet 11 inches tall. The bones show no signs of malnutrition, injury, or disease, although she may have been killed by an illness that did not leave evidence on her remains. Because DNA extracted from the remains was too degraded for use, Nilsson based her appearance on evidence for the wave of pale-skinned, dark-haired, and brown-eyed farmers who migrated into the region between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago. Archaeologist Helena Gjaerum completed the reconstruction, which is on display at the Västernorrlands Museum, by crafting clothing for the model out of deer, moose, and elk with Neolithic techniques. The shoes—made of reindeer, beaver, and fox—likely had padding made of hay. Gjaerum processed the hides by hand and treated them with a fatty mixture of moose brain to preserve the leather and keep it pliable. “I think it would be crazy to think she’d have primitive clothes,” Gjaerum said. To read about another archaeological discovery from Sweden, go to "Around the World: Sweden."

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