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Copenhagen, May 19 : Two men, a scientist and sculptor, have used the terracotta facial reconstruction technique to recreate the face of an ancient Danish king.
According to a report in the Copenhagen Post, the men behind the facial reconstructions are coroner Niels Lynnerup and sculptor Bjorn Skaarup.
Since 2001, they have used the technique to put faces to many long-dead persons, including 17th century nobleman Kaj Lykke and Denmark's oldest known citizen, the Koelbjerg woman of Funen, who lived around 10,000 years ago.
Now, they have recreated the face of King Svend Estridsen of Denmark, who has been dead for over 900 years.
A cast of the king's skull was taken at the beginning of the 1900s and has been used by the two men to create a vivid likeness of the ruler's face using the terracotta technique.
The technique is used in many Western countries to recreate the faces of unidentified deceased persons and then shown publicly in the hopes of someone recognizing the face.
Along with the king, who is also known as Svend II, the terracotta treatment was also applied to Queen Sofie, who ruled in the 12th century.
According to Lynnerup, the terracotta method used by forensic teams results in nearly 70 percent of unidentified bodies being eventually identified and the likenesses the method produces are fairly accurate representations - even the ancient specimens.
"The method is scientifically fundamental. I'm pretty sure that those who personally knew these people would say the likenesses are very close," he said.
Both Lynnerup and archaeologist Else Roesdahl of Aarhus University believe the reconstructions add life to Danish history.
"Seeing the faces gives people the opportunity to come much closer to the actual players in Denmark's history," said Roesdahl, who plans to use the constructed faces as illustrations in her coming book about the Danish Viking and Middle Ages periods.
"There unfortunately aren't any portraits of the kings and queens from that period," she added.