Face to face with the past

Heritage Malta is working on the facial reconstruction of a female who was buried in the complex of St Paul’s Catacombs in Rabat, Malta, around the 1st century A.D. Eventually, this facial reconstruction will form part of the site’s permanent display and through it, visitors will be able to come face to face with this woman who lived in Malta about 2000 years ago.

This skeleton was discovered in the shaft of tomb 15 beneath the area of St Paul’s Catacombs’ new visitor centre, during archaeological excavations held between 2013 and 2015. It was an obvious choice for a facial reconstruction since her skull was the only one complete enough and found with a jaw.

The woman was between 18 – 27 year old and about 140 – 150 cm tall when she died of unknown causes. Studies on the bones indicate that although the woman must have had a reasonably healthy childhood, she was already suffering from degenerative joint disease, possibly due to mechanical work.

The facial reconstruction of this skeleton is being carried out by osteoarchaeologist and forensic anthropologist Roberto Micciche, Adjunct of Anthropology at the University of Palermo, together with forensic anthropologist Daniele Di Lorenzo. This project forms part of the post-excavation studies of the archaeological excavations held at St Paul’s Catacombs.


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