Prof. Manolis Papagrigorakis
Manolis J. Papagrigorakis graduated from the Dental School, University of Athens, specialized in Orthodontics and got a Master Degree from the University of Bergen, Norway. He is an Assistant Professor in Orthodontics in the UoA, responsible for the Dental Unit of the Sleep Apnea of the Dental School, UoA, as well as for the Paleopathology laboratory of UoA. Moreover, he has been for several years General Supervisor of Studies of the post graduate program of Museology of UoA.
He has published a lot of papers in international scientific magazines on the subjects of Orthodontics, Sleep Apnea and Paleopathology, and has written relevant chapters in books in English. He has written three books in Greek: “Embryology of the Craniofacial Complex”, Dentistry and Sleep Apnea”, and “Cleft Lip and Palate: from Etiology and Diagnosis to Treatment”.
A number of research studies concern the morphology of the craniofacial complex of ancient and modern Greeks. Concerning himself for many years with Archaeology and Archaeopathology led to the original work of the reconstruction of the face of the ancient girl, Myrtis, as well as to the detection of the etiological factor of the ‘Athens Plague’ of the 5th century B.C., the plague that killed Pericles but also Myrtis, during the Peloponnesian War.
Title: The reconstruction of the face of a 2.500 year-old girl: Myrtis
In 1944-45, during works for the construction of the new Athens Metro in the historical area of the ancient cemetery of Athens, Keramikos, the archaeological excavation brought to light a common grave, which dates back to the time of the notorious Plague of Athens (430-426 B.C.) that killed Pericles and decimated the Athenians. The grave contained skeletal remains of ca. 150 people, both children and adults, and among them the skull of an eleven year-old girl, which retained both deciduous and permanent teeth, a characteristic typical for her age. The child -who was given the ancient name Myrtis- died of typhoid fever during the plague of Athens. Typhoid fever is even today -after 2.500 years- the cause of death for 500.000 to 700.000 people every year. Moreover, each year nearly nine million children under five are losing their lives from typhoid fever and other diseases that can be prevented and treated. For this reason, the United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC) “asked” Myrtis to become a friend of the UN Millennium Development Goals and join, in her own unique way, the United Nations world campaign "We can End Poverty".
After detecting the causative factor of her death, there occurred the idea of remolding the head and face of the ancient child. Although modern standards of ideal proportions and facial esthetics are based mostly on observations of human faces as depicted in Classical Greek masterpieces of art, the real faces of ordinary ancient Greeks have, until now, remained elusive and subject to the imagination.
Objective forensic techniques of facial reconstruction have never been applied before, because human skeletal material from Classical Greece has been extremely scarce, since most decent burials of that time required cremation. The original skull was replicated via three-dimensional modeling and rapid prototyping techniques. The reconstruction followed the Manchester method, laying the facial tissues from the surface of the skull outward by using depth marker pegs as thickness guides. The shape, size, and position of the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth were determined according to features of the underlying skeletal tissues, whereas the hairstyle followed the fashion of the time. This is the first case of facial reconstruction of a layperson residing in Athens of the Golden Age of Pericles. It is ironic, however, that this unfortunate girl who lived such a short life in ancient Athens, will now, 2500 years later, have the chance to travel and be universally recognizable in a world much bigger than anybody in ancient Athens could have ever imagined.