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Richard III dig: Leicester archaeologists to reconstruct the face of Greyfriars skeleton


Archaeologists working to identify the Greyfriars remains are reconstructing the 500-year-old skeleton's face to give people a possible glimpse of King Richard III.

Scientists at the University of Leicester are using techniques similar to those which recreated Tutankhamen's face more than 3,000 years after the young Pharaoh died.

The Leicester skeleton, found at a council car park in August, has already been subjected to a CT scan which will allow a specialist team to build a 3D digital picture of the face.

They hope to reveal the results in the new year.

Professor Lin Foxhall, head of archaeology at the university, said: "We've provided 3D scans of all the bones, including the skull, to a specialist team, which will build up a picture of how he used to look.

"It will be very interesting, because of course there are portraits of him and if the images come back and they're similar it's another piece of evidence which will strengthen the identification process."

The team is continuing its work to identify the remains.

Another facet of the identification is the comparison of the DNA from the remains with that of London furniture maker Michael Ibsen. Mr Ibsen is believed to be a relative of Richard III.

His genes are being tested against those of the skeleton to see if they match.

Results are expected to be revealed early next year.

However, University of Leicester pro vice-chancellor Professor Kevin Schurer – a specialist in family and surname history – has also indicated there may be a second line of descent which the team are exploring.

Prof Foxhall said: "We're hoping to track down another possible descendent who will provide another sample of DNA.

"I'm not sure if we've contacted the person yet, but I don't want to give too much away during this early stage."

Other tests include environmental sampling and radiocarbon dating, which will all be used to help establish whether or not the bones belong to the former monarch.

Analysis of burial practices, health and diet and living conditions will all be used to build a picture of the person found at Greyfriars.

Scientists will pay particular attention to the battle scars found on the skull and the abnormal spinal conditions.

These are consistent with historical accounts of Richard III – without themselves confirming the individual's identity.

Richard Buckley, co-director of the university's archaeology service, said: "We are looking at many different lines of inquiry.

"The evidence from these will all add up to give us more assurance about the identity of the individual.

"As well as the DNA testing, we have to take in all of the other pieces of evidence which tell us about the person's lifestyle – including his health and where he grew up.

"There are many specialists involved in the process and so we have to co-ordinate all of the tests so the analysis is done in a specific order."

Richard III dig: Leicester archaeologists to reconstruct the face of Greyfriars skeleton

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