Meet Ava, an Early Bronze Age woman buried in Scotland 3,800 years ago

  • Ava, an early Bronze Age woman buried in Scotland, probably had straight black hair, dark eyes and was about five feet seven inches tall.

About 3,800 years ago, give or take a few decades, a young girl was buried in Scotland. She was buried with a bell-shaped vessel, a cattle scapula, and several flints. Since her discovery in 1987 by construction workers, the woman in the stone tomb has been a point of study and fascination.

The latest in a series of facial reconstructions estimating what it might have looked like gives insight into the Early Bronze Age and a time of migratory change on the island that is now Britain. The recently published reconstruction by Cícero Moraes is disturbing and is based on a detailed study of the ancient skull.

Moraes, who is Brazilian and specializes in graphic projects like this, began with CT scans of Ava’s skull that were made available to the research public. Ava is the name given to the young elder, short for Achavanich Beaker Burial.

The skull is missing the mandible and lower jaw, but this detail could be extrapolated using CT scans of modern humans. Moraes told LiveScience: “I then set out to outline the face, which we do using a combination of soft tissue thickness markers, which inform the boundaries of the skin.”

These limits were in reference to modern anatomy through the use of a “virtual donor” whose face “is adjusted until the donor skull becomes Ava’s skull by causing the skin to follow the deformation, resulting in a compatible face.” with the approximate individual. «

While earlier reconstructions of Ava depicted her with light reddish blonde hair and blue eyes, more recent DNA analyzes have reported a different appearance in later reconstructions. Later depictions show her dark, straight hair and dark eyes, as well as a more Mediterranean skin tone.

A 2018 reconstruction appeared alongside new information that Ava’s immediate ancestors likely emigrated to what is now Britain from central or western Europe. Ava herself is believed to be a member of the Bell Beaker culture, named for the unique vessels discovered in burials. A migration of Beaker peoples to the island was changing its genetic makeup about 4,000 years ago, at the time of Ava’s life and death.

Many questions remain about Ava. Why was she buried in a carved stone tomb when many similar tombs from the early Bronze Age were simply in the ground? Why the cow’s scapula on her grave? Who was she? Aside from her age, estimated to be between 18 and 25, little is known about her life and death. Certainly, Moraes’ reconstruction brings her face to life once again and encourages further investigation into her culture.