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Technology Reveals ‘Real Faces’ Of Roman Emperors

We can get basic ideas on how the ancient kings or emperors used to look like from their portraits, statues or busts. As portraits are drawn with various colors and shades, they deliver a more clear view on the subject’s face rather than the busts. That’s why our conceptions about those historical characters’ appearances usually are incomplete whose only busts and statues are available in museums or art collections.

Now probably a way has been found to fill up that gap. A Toranto-based Canadian graphics designer Daniel Voshart, with the help of technology, has created photorealistic images of 54 ancient Roman emperors from their sculptures.

Voshart used the ‘machine learning’ technology along with the commonly used Photoshop software to recreate the faces. ‘Machine learning’ is a computer algorithm system which comparing multiple samples of a specific subject, generates a relative model of it. Daniel Voshart made such models of those 54 Roman emperors’ faces. Then he gave them the final touch with the assistance of Photoshop.

Recreated faces of 54 notable personalities from ancient Roman empire (Image: Daniel Voshart)

Voshart informed that he had to use around 800 busts and statues of those 54 emperors as samples. Their facial details including any particular mark or feature in the face, skin and hair color, overall shape etc were thoroughly analyzed with machine learning technology from those 800 samples. At the end the remaining brushing ups were done with Photoshop software. In this part Daniel Voshert took help from the facial descriptions of the emperors’ faces written or displayed in historic documents, artworks and even on coins!

In old times, when the sculptures or portraits of the royals were made, generally their gestures were used to be exaggerated. Meaning that the kings or emperors were usually portrayed prettier, brighter, stronger, mightier than they really were. Keeping that in mind, Daniel Voshert tried hard to dig up the ‘real looks’ of the 54 Roman rulers instead of their ‘imposed faces’.

Interesting to know, when Daniel Voshart started this unique project few months ago, he hadn’t any big plan about it. When the covid-19 pandemic started, like many, Voshert also had to go to self-isolation for few days. During that period just to pass his idle times, Daniel Voshert took over the task aiming to recreate images of a handful of Roman emperors. Later which number grew upto 54!

Also before this project, Daniel Voshert had almost no ideas about Roman emperors or the Roman civilization. Later on he gradually collected information and acquired enough knowledge to continue his task. However Voshert commented that this lack of knowledge actually helped him because he could draw the faces neutrally remaining free from the general perceptions of ‘good looking emperors!’

All the 54 Roman royals Daniel Voshert worked on ruled during the Principate period of the Roman Empire, spanning from 27 B.C. to A.D. 285.

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