‘Myrtis’ on Tour

Remember that reconstructed Athenian plague victim (I think we only had Greek coverage at the time) … she’s on tour! From the ANA:

The girl that put a face to distant antiquity, the reconstructed 11-year-old ‘Myrtis’ of ancient Athens, has moved to a new ‘home’ at the Museum in the city of Podgorica in Montenegro. The nameless young girl that died and was buried in a mass grave during the plague that struck Athens in 430 B.C. will be on display there until April 22. Following her ‘resurrection’ nearly 2,500 years after she died of typhoid fever – the plague that also struck down the statesman Pericles and one third of all Athenians

The name ‘Myrtis’ is borrowed, given to her by scientists that worked on the reconstruction of her features. Following her ‘resurrection’ nearly 2,500 years after she died of typhoid fever – the plague that also struck down the statesman Pericles and one third of all Athenians at that time – she has also been made a “Millennium Friend” and her picture posted on a website supporting the UN Millennium Goals as a message to the world about disease prevention.

“My death was inevitable. In the 5th century BC we had neither the knowledge nor the means to fight deadly illnesses. However, you, the people of the 21st century, have no excuse. You possess all the necessary means and resources to save the lives of millions of people. To save the lives of millions of children like me who are dying of preventable and curable diseases.

2,500 years after my death, I hope that my message will engage and inspire more people to work and make the Millennium Development Goals a reality,” a letter posted next to her picture says.

Orthodontics professor Manolis Papagrigorakis, the man who first conceived the project of reconstructing Myrtis, said his team has already begun working on reconstructions of the faces of a man and woman found in the same mass grave in Kerameikos.

The exhibition “Myrtis: Face to face with the past” is centred on the facial reconstruction by scientists of an 11-year-old Athenian girl that lived and died in ancient Athens during the 5th century BC.

Her bones were discovered in 1994-1995, in a mass grave with another 150 bodies, during work to build the metro station in Kerameikos. Her skull was in an unusually good condition and this inspired Professor Papagrigorakis to enlist the help of specialist scientists from Sweden to recreate her features, using the ‘Manchester’ facial reconstruction technique.

The final result, wearing a linen dress made especially for the purpose by Greek fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki based on images of clothing styles of that time, forms the backbone of an exhibition that explores both the various stages of a facial reconstruction. It also exhibits the finds uncovered by archaeologists at Kerameikos, which date around 430-426 B.C. and are linked with the plague that contributed to Athens’ defeat from Sparta during the Peloponnesian Wars.

Scientists decided to give ‘Myrtis’ brown eyes and brown hair, arranged in a Classical era style, like the majority of Athenians at that time but stressed that her true colors could only be discovered by expensive DNA analysis that has not yet been carried out.

DNA analysis techniques have, however, found that Myrtis and two other bodies in the mass grave had died of typhoid fever, confirming theories about the historic plague.

‘Myrtis’ in Montenegro | ANA.

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