Forensic sculptor reconstructs 325-year-old face

Elena Watts By Elena Watts

May 1, 2014 at 12:01 a.m.
Updated May 2, 2014 at 12:02 a.m.

Crossroads residents can soon get a glimpse of the face that belonged to a 325-year-old French colonist from the earliest settlement on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The Museum of the Coastal Bend will host a five-day facial reconstruction project that begins Tuesday and ends with a family discovery program May 10.

Amanda Danning, a forensic sculptor, will reconstruct the face of the Marquis de la Sablonniere. He and Isabelle Talon were killed by Karankawa Indians in Victoria County in the 1600s.

Their bones were unearthed during the Fort St. Louis excavation more than a decade ago. Despite being killed the same day and buried in the same grave, the conditions of their skulls were inconsistent. Enough of the Marquis' facial bones were intact to allow reconstruction of his face, but Talon's were too deteriorated for the project.

The Marquis' skull was reconstructed in plastic by Medical Modeling in Colorado. Danning will re-create the Marquis' face as accurately as possible with soft clay atop the skull.

Danning will also deliver a lecture in the VC/UHV Library about the facial reconstruction process May 9.

"Science has come a long way in five years - we can know things about the missing parts from the existing parts," Danning said. "In the hands of someone qualified to do this, the recognition rate is 89 percent."



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