The warrior’s face from the Battle of Gotland reconstructed with 3D technology

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To draw conclusions about the fighter’s gruesome death, Moraes created two 3D digital facial models that recreated what the man might have looked like before he was bludgeoned in combat. One was a simple black and white reconstruction and the other incorporated a more speculative artistic approach.

This second image provided the detail needed to understand the Warrior’s demise by showing him in vibrant, lifelike colors. The man had dark hair, a long beard, and a huge gash extending across the lower part of his face.

Modeling an ax in the bone

“Of the weapon options that could have been used, the ax seemed the most consistent,” Moraes said. Live Science in an email. “So I modeled an ax and placed it on the bone. It’s hard to know if it killed him, but it certainly caused a lot of soft tissue damage,” Moraes said. “It was shocking to see that ax stuck in his face.”

A reconstruction of the warrior’s face.

The man’s skull shows a deep fissure stretching diagonally from the lower left part of the lower jaw to the hollow cavity where the nose once was. Additionally, several teeth appear to be missing, likely knocked out by the force of the attack. Only one thing could have caused such damage, Moraes says: a brutal ax to the face.

Moraes speculates the man was one of 1,800 local farmers who died during the Battle of Gotland, which was led by Denmark’s King Valdemar Atterdag to take control of the sparsely populated Swedish island. The man would probably have been attacked because he lacked the fighting skills to defend himself.

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