‘Surprisingly white’ facial reconstruction of 5,500-year-old man sparks debate

A facial reconstruction of a 5,500-year-old man found near Stonehenge has sparked debate online after it came out ‘surprisingly white’.

The model was made after remains of a neolithic man, believed to be between 25 and 40-years-old, were found near the rock monument – which is around 500 years younger than the man, according to forensic evidence.

Now, an image of the recreation was shared on Twitter by Alison Fisk, an archaeologist, but lots of people were quick to point out the same thing.

With light brown hair, a short beard, dark brown eyes, and pale skin, many Twitter users were quick to question the racial bias of the person who created the reconstruction.

The reconstructed face was put on display back in 2014 at the English Heritage Stonehenge Visitor Centre, but was shared by Alison Fisk on September 30.

She wrote: “The face of ‘Stonehenge Man’. A forensic reconstruction of a Neolithic man born about 5,500 years ago and buried in a long barrow near Stonehenge. He lived in the area before the stone circle was built. The long barrow was excavated in the 1860s.”

One said: “Surprisingly white considering the gene variant SLC45A2 didn’t elevate to a noticeable degree until 5,800 years ago – brings into question the reconstruction builder’s bias.”

And another said: “I agree with facial structure but skin and hair colour seems quite racial. Would love to see any evidence pointing towards it.”

While another added: “How much is purely speculative? I imagine there’s some guesswork on the hair and eye colour based on probabilities that make this pretty close. The hairline?

“I’m guessing that would be pure guess and what we see is a choice made that best reflects his age more than confidence.”

Another user commented on the post: “His beard and hair would have been lighter and thicker to survive the cold. His eyes would likely be lighter to reflect snow glare.”

“Could’ve fooled me”, added another user. “Aquiline nose, red hair, black/brown eyes! He looks no different from many Celts or Saxons or Vikings or even Normans who came much much later. Ancestry DNA?”

But this comment sparked debate, as one user stepped in to say: “It’s keeping the more nationalist audience happy, I think. They want to ‘see themselves’. They’re much more likely to have a spin on their backs in the parking lot.”