Ever wondered what the Great Scipio looked like, or Julius Caesar? Of course we have statues, but are they all well attributed to the right persons? And can we really get a real sense of what they looked like from a statue alone? In many cases the sources are multiple: statue, coins, intaglios, texts descriptions but in other cases sources are quite scarce. To complicate further some statues have a doubtful attributions…
So re-creating an accurate portrait of long forgotten faces is a challenging task and quite a long process. Although for the Empire period there are no identification problems and so many documentation's are available, for the republican period the task prove quite challenging.
Fortunately Dr Sandrine Viollet a young historian has been working for years on the question. Comparing hundreds of portraits on statues, intaglios, coins and existing texts descriptions, verifying the right attribution of statues often attributed too rapidly to an important person at a time when evidences were scarce and never really questioned ever since.
With the help of modern computer technology, and Dr Viollet identifications we are able today to discover finally what these ancient famous people from the republic looked like.
This process does takes a long time though as months or years of researches are needed and then the building up of a face itself takes somewhat between 20 to 30 hours work.
This page proposes only the final result with a few hints on what material was used to make the final portraits. If you like to know more on the research process contact Dr Sandrine Viollet from the link at the bottom of the page.
The face re-construction in itself is quite a complicated technique, but to show how accurate we can be, we will start our portrait section by an illustration demonstrating how the final portrait matches perfectly the contour of the face of an ancient statue.
We hope that you will enjoy meeting these famous and powerful men that have changed at their level the course of ancient history.
Publius Cornelius Scipio 255-211 BC had a long military career before he defeated Hannibal at Zama in 202 BC and earned his nickname Africanus.
He is here as a young tribune fighting along his father in the first terrible battles of the long second Punic war.
Publius Cornelius Scipio 255-211 BC now mature at the time of its final victory over Hannibal.
Years of hard campaigns have taken their toll on the young man physical appearance, but beside age and a very muscular and energetic face some of the features of the young dynamic men remains.
Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numanticus 185 – 129 BC.
This brilliant Roman commander, destructor of Carthage and Numantia was also known to be a fierce hand to hand fighter as attested by the hump and head scares visible on his statue. He was also a conservative politician as well as a passionate intellectual and lover of arts.
Lucius Cornelius Sylla ‘ Felix’ 138 – 78 BC
Was a great tactician both as soldier and as politician, champion of the aristocracy he became a feared dictator. His skin problems were notorious and he was described as having a red skin with white plaques and steel blue eyes.
Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus 106 – 48 BC
A very good but never brilliant army commander and politician. We know that he was blond with blue eyes with most probably non Latin ancestors as his physical appearance proves it on this adult statue.
Caius Julius Caesar 100 – 44 BC
He was one of the greatest military commanders in history, a great politician and a talented writer. Based on his statue found in the Rhône river in Arles he is already quite aged on this portrait. Great seducer, he was notorious for taking a lot of care of his physical appearance.