Resurrecting the dead: what Jane Austen and Ted Bundy have in common


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From what I’ve seen of cases where a forensic drawing was done and later they found the real person, even the best forensic portraits tend to be a bit like caricatures in the sense that they may be close enough to set off a light bulb in the minds of people who know the real person, but if you do a side-by-side comparison they only look similar in fairly broad terms.

Here is a Jane Austen portrait dated to around 1815 that some experts believe was done from life, while others believe was a type of “imaginary portrait”. If the former is true, you can see it does look broadly similar to the forensic reconstruction in the article, but still she looks like a fairly different person; and if the latter is true, I imagine it was still probably researched by the artist (the nose is very similar to the forensic reconstruction, even though neither looks that similar to the nose in the sketch by Austen’s sister), so it may be no less plausible as a speculation about what she looked like.

I have it from a reliable source she looked like this:


How soon we forget.

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I think its a good likeness, but I’m dubious about the forensic reconstruction of hair and eye color.

How many years need to pass before it’s appropriate to exhume a skeleton in order to satisfy our curiosity about what an individual looked like?

200 years is obviously not long enough (especially when someone’s buried in a cathedral dedicated to a still-extant religion). 500 years might be do-able (if you’re buried in a car park at least) but still a stretch if you’re in currently-consecrated ground? If 2000 years had passed she might merit a Time Team episode?


when the lease on the gravesite is up.

I know what she looks like. I have the Action Figure. Your argument is irrelevant!

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