“Myrtis” was a girl of approximately 11 years old when she died from typhoid plague that hit ancient Athens between 426-430 BC . Myrtis’ remains were discovered in a mass grave together with 150 skeletal remains of men, women and children archaeologists believe they died from the plague. 2,500 years later Myrtis’ bust has been reconstructed and can be visited at the National Archaeological Museum September 14-November 30, 2010 in Athens.
The mass grave was found during excavations in the area of Kerameikos Cemetery in 1994-95. Among the bones was the intact skull of an 11 year-old girl, the archaeologists later called “Myrtis“. The excellent condition of the skull with jaw and teeth, prompted the orthodontic research team to reconstruct the face. For this purpose, a replica of the skull was manufactured with the most modern scientific methods and it traveled from Greece to a laboratory in Sweden, where, with special reconstruction techniques, it took form and became the person we see today.
It’s a girl with a large forehead and possibly brown eyes and hair. The profile of the person and characteristics have been attributed, but are not ruled out the possibility of error. The reconstruction work started in 2007.
The findings of the mass burial (the disordered and hasty burial and the dating of the few funerary gifts) led the archaeologists to the conclusion that it contained victims of the plague that struck Athens in 430 B.C and killed 50,000 Athenians.
Myrtis’ exhibition: Face to Face with the Past , September 14 – November 30, 2010 at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Many Ancient Girls around ….
Two years ago, in October 2008, another ancient “girl” was found in her grave in Nea Smyrni, a southern suburb of Athens. The grave was in excellent condition and contained an intact skeleton and two modest burial gifts: a small mirror and a part of a spindle. The skeleton was believed to belong to a woman due to measure of shoulders and pelvis bones. She was 1,65 m.
Nea Smyrni, October 2008 – Picture taken by a friend
Skeleton and burial gifts were transferred to Museum of Vravrona for analysis and evaluation. The grave, estimated to be dated from the 4th century BC, was found when workers were digging a main road to put pipes for natural gas. Another grave, but empty, was found next to the girl’s
More Information about Myrtis read in Myrtis the 2,500 Year Old Athenian Girl Finds a New Home (English), Mytris “own” website (Greek/English) or check herFacebook page (Greek)
Video about Myrtis’ excavation in Greek/ English subtitles