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She's 10,000 years old -- and looking good

XXXXXX

Forensics experts recreate face
from bone fragments

June 7, 1996
Web posted at: 1:05 a.m. EDT

From Reporter Joan MacFarlane

MIDLAND, Michigan (CNN) -- Ancient history buffs packed a Michigan auditorium Thursday as a 10,000-year old woman made her first public appearance.

Austin

Her remains, the oldest ever found in the United States, were discovered near Austin, Texas, in 1983 by a group of anthropologists from Texas A&M University.

But it was not until Dow Corning created a mold of the delicate remains that researchers could begin to put her together and get a good view of what she looked like. (889K QuickTime movie)

"It's quite exciting," said Gentry Steele of Texas A&M. "It's given us a chance to corroborate archeology records with biological. It's a nice chance for biology to mesh with cultural history."

Building

Scientists painstakingly pieced together the badly crushed skull by using a silicone mold.

"The neat thing about silicone is it can reproduce anything it goes against, which makes it perfect for mold-making," said Bob Kelly of Dow Corning.

The mold allowed Dow Corning scientists to make a near-perfect reproduction of the original find. Then, Denis Lee, a University of Michigan forensic medical illustrator, worked from the replicas to reconstruct the woman's head and face.

Mold

"Using the forensic information, we picked out the tissue depth for her particular race, which is Asian, and glued those tissue depths onto the skull," Lee said.

Scientists said the woman, while she may have lived very differently than we do today, probably looked no different physically than a 20th century woman.

"She would have looked like you or I, and we probably would have enjoyed her company," Steele said.

The project continues as researchers hope to develop molds for the woman's remaining bones, with the hope of one day recreating a body to go with her face.

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