The woman from the Dolní Věstonice 3 burial: a new view of the face using modern technologies

  • Zdeňka NerudováEmail author
  • Eva Vaníčková
  • Zdeněk Tvrdý
  • Jiří Ramba
  • Ondřej Bílek
  • Petr Kostrhun
Original Paper


South Moravia (Czech Republic) has provided numerous Upper Palaeolithic—Gravettian sites (33–22 kyr BP) with a great deal of human skeletal remains. One such site is the well-known burial of a gracile, 36- to 45-year-old female, found in Dolní Věstonice I in 1949. Palaeopathological examination of the female’s skull showed extensive pathological damage with significant asymmetry of the facial area as a result of a traumatic injury in childhood. The goal of this article is to summarise all information and make a virtual reconstruction of the original skull including a facial reconstruction. The condition of the skull from grave DV 3 was generally very poor and fragmentary; it was restored in the 1950s. We used computer tomography (CT) analysis and a 3D scan of the skull. For the 3D reconstruction of the face, we used a method based on prediction rules by G. Lebedinskaya. The results of the new CT analysis confirm an irregular formation of the braincase. For the first time, we can compare the original state of the skull with the reconstruction. On the basis of the results of artistic facial reconstruction, we can present the “real” face of a woman who is 25,000–27,000 years old. This combination of CT and 3D data allowed us to create a new 3D virtual model. Though the facial reconstruction took into account the post-traumatic condition of the woman’s face and the asymmetry of the bones is obvious, the degree of asymmetry is subjective.


Upper Palaeolithic Burial Paleopathology Facial reconstruction Moravia 



We thank Elizaveta Veselovskaya (Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia), Eva Drozdová (Department of Experimental Biology—Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno) and Josef Svoboda (Radio Diagnostic Department, Kyjov Hospital). We are grateful to Petr Neruda who helped us with the illustrations and Martin Oliva, former head of the Anthropos Institute, who gave us permission to borrow the skull for clinical tests. The skull was 3D scanned in collaboration with the 3D Studio of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology (FAVU). We are very grateful to both reviewers for their valuable comments and to Alex Pryor for his kind help with language enhancement. The research was realised under the Centre of Cultural Anthropology and Anthropos Institute (Moravian Museum).

Funding information

This paper was financially supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic by institutional financing of the long-term conceptual development of the research institution (the Moravian Museum, MK000094862).

Supplementary material

12520_2018_698_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (8.8 mb)
Online resource 1 Virtual model of the skull from DV 3 combining the results of 3D data and CT scan, after the removal of plaster from the skeletal material. Data Source: FAVU (PDF 9060 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Moravian Museum, Centre for Cultural AnthropologyBrnoCzech Republic
  2. 2.Moravian MuseumAnthropos InstituteBrnoCzech Republic
  3. 3.PrahaCzech Republic
  4. 4.PardubiceCzech Republic

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