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The Way History’s Biggest Figures Actually Looked Proves We Had It All Wrong


Thanks to technology, we don’t have to wonder what a person looks like. With a simple Google search, we can have access to their social media pages and other sites where you can view their photos. For most of history, we have relied on portraits and sculptures of influential people. Unfortunately, the artists didn’t always get it right. A group of hi-tech historians used CGI to recreate these famous faces. The way history’s biggest figures actually looked proves we had it all wrong.

King Tut

In 1922, Howard Carter discovered the tomb of King Tut. It believed that he looked very different in real life. He was a product of extensive inbreeding, which left him with many genetic defects. Since he only ruled Egypt for a decade, it assumed that he died young due to disease or an infected leg fracture.

Queen Elizabeth I

There are plenty of portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, but it believed that the painters made her look younger than she was. Mat Collishaw created an animatronic face of the queen, the biggest figures, complete with wisps of facial hair and smallpox scars.

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar, a Roman dictator until he assassinated at the hands of the Senate. In 2018, the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden tried to create Caesar to see what he really looked like. In the end, the real Caesar looks similar to the portraits, with just a few changes.

George Washington

George Washington was our first President, and there are many portraits of him in existence. The only problem is that a wide range of artistic interpretations, two portraits of him look like entirely different men. Historians used information from firsthand descriptions and the works of more trustworthy artists to come up with what they are sure George Washington looked like.


Cleopatra believed to have been a beautiful woman. In fact, she considered to be the most beautiful woman in Egypt at the time. She was also the love interest of Caesar ally, Mark Antony, and the final ruler of Egypt. Photos of her are based on the modern description of beauty; however, these artists have it all wrong. Based on coin portraits, she had a very prominent jaw and a large, hooked nose. She is far from being as attractive as most people believed.

Maximilien Robespierre

This lawyer was a huge fan of death by guillotine. During the French Revolution, he engineered the Reign of Terror. After over 17,000 men and women were killed; he was executed himself. Before he was buried, his executioners made a death mask. When a team of forensic pathologists recreated his face, they included the wrinkles and pits in his skin that artists left out when drawing his portrait.


There are no physical descriptions of Jesus in the Bible. Many people find this to be very strange. This is also the reason why people had to come up with their own ideas of what Jesus actually looked like. What we see in paintings of Jesus shows him with European features. In 2015, a group of researchers used skulls from adult Israelis from that era to create a rough idea of what Jesus actually looked like.


After his great-uncle, Julius Caesar died, Octavian hunted down his assassins and tried to become the first Emperor of Rome. He renamed himself, Augustus, and over the years, artists have painted his portrait. Modern artists tried to recreate his boyish look, and they used ancient paintings of a young Octavian as a reference.

Johann Sebastian Bach

This man was one of the most influential composers of the Baroque period and a biggest figure. Throughout his life, Bach wrote over 1,100 compositions. When he died, his body was placed in an unmarked grave, only to be moved to a vault in St. Thomas Church 150-years later. Based on his skull, historians were able to determine what he really looked like. His portraits look strikingly similar to what he actually looked like. Unlike many other historical figures, it appears that Bach didn’t ask to look younger in his portraits. Historians believe that he wanted his portraits to look just like him.


Nefertiti oversaw the most prosperous age of Ancient Egypt. Many researchers believe that she disguised herself as a man to solidify her reign after the death of her husband. In 2003, a mummy nicknamed, “The Younger Lady” was excavated. It is believed to be the remains of Queen Nefertiti. A paleoartist named Elisabeth Daynes scanned the body and created a 3-D likeness of the mummy. She is sure that it is what Nefertiti would have looked like. Some historians don’t believe that it is Nefertiti at all, and “The Younger Lady” is an entirely different woman.

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