Mahatma Gandhi, a popular revolutionary figure during the independent movements in India, is seen in photos today wearing eyeglasses and bald. However, did you know Gandhi is listed as one of the historical figures who were attractive in their prime? This Indian hero, who became known for his peaceful tactics and bloodless revolutionary ideas against British colonial rule, was a “striking figure in a tailored suit.”
He had a neatly parted hairstyle, and dapper mustache, typically those gentlemen that you find on social media, very far from how popular media depict him robed and old.
On the list are also British adventurer Richard Francis Burton, author Charlotte Brontë, stunt artist Harry Houdini, Gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson, scientist Nikola Tesla, Great Depression figure Bonnie Parker, and Thomas Edison. Their photos are electrifying. Most commonly, history books would depict these figures way better than what they actually looked like in their real lives, and part of this is because historians also follow image-building when painting these people in photographs.
Recently, anthropologists tied up with forensic experts to facially reconstruct the physical faces of popular figures in history like Queen Elizabeth and Egypt’s King Tut, using CGI and three-dimensional printing. They even added medical procedures like CT scans to make sure things are accurate.
And, they actually looked different from how they appeared in photos in your history books. Here are our top picks.
1. King Tut
Over 2,000 digital scans and various CT scans were conducted to analyze the Egyptian pharaoh’s genetics to ascertain how he looked like in real life. His images on pop media are faces perfectly angled. However, these studies showed he was actually a man with a heavy overbite, imperfect. His body even found to be more devastating. Because he yielded to malaria on his death, it was shown he had deformed hips and clubbed left foot. He was the pharaoh of Egypt from 1334 to 1324 B.C. and interest for this figure expanded especially when his tomb was discovered in the 1920s.
Cleopatra was Ancient Rome’s favorite Egyptian queen. In the movies, she was depicted a very pretty and intelligent queen of her time. However, further studies showed otherwise. The Altes Museum in Berlin showed her sporting masculine features and a prominent nose.
3. Queen Elizabeth I
Ruling over England from the years 1559-1603, Queen Elizabeth I was a patron for the arts and literature. Known as the Virgin Queen, she reigned for 45 years and was unable to marry. Three-dimensional printing further shed light on what she truly looked like. An animatronic version of her facial feature (animatronic, meaning the blinking movements included), still showed her prominent forehead, but also revealed deep spaces around her eyes, elongated nose adjacent dimension to the face, and prominent cheekbones.
4. Maximilian Robespierre
The French Revolution won’t be complete without Maximilian Robespierre. He was among the popular figures during “The Reign Of Terror,” a period that happened shortly after the Revolution. He was among the pioneers of the Committee for Public Safety after the execution of King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette.
Astronomer Copernicus also became subject of facial reconstruction to compare features from historical photos to reconstructed skulls. It revealed more of his scar above the left eye and his broken nose. Aside from matching what was in the images, the DNA scans matched the description of Copernicus in history.