Student reveals the face of ancient Canary Islander

A University of Dundee student has recreated the face of an indigenous Canary Islander, a culture thought to have been wiped out by the Spanish Empire six centuries ago.

Karina Osswald, originally from Canada, has revealed what a Guanche woman, aged 25-35 years old, may have looked like. The Guanche were an indigenous group who inhabited the Canary Islands from the 1st Century AD until the 15th Century – when they were invaded and culturally absorbed by Spanish settlers.

Karina’s reconstruction is currently on display alongside the works of over 80 students as part of this year’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design Masters Show.

She said, “The true identity of the Guanche people has long remained a mystery – with the literary accounts of invading Spaniards being some of the only real information left about these intriguing indigenous people.

“During this project, I ended up learning so much about the Guanche and I hope her image will inspire others to find out more about this ancient population.”

Guanche woman A-46 by Karina Osswald

Karina created the craniofacial reconstruction from a Guanche skull (A-46) for her MSc Forensic Art & Facial Identification degree by taking 3D scans of the skull during a visit to the Anatomical Museum at the University of Edinburgh.

“What I’ve created is a best guess estimate as to how one of these islanders would have looked,” says Karina. “However, recent literature suggests that the appearances differed between each island of the Canary archipelago. This could mean, with further research, we may one day get a clearer idea of the individual differences between each Guanche island group.”

This year’s Masters Show, open until Sunday 26 August, showcases some of the UK’s most innovative postgraduate courses and the artwork of over 80 students. The exhibition is open from 10am-8pm on weekdays and from 10am-4pm at weekends.

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