Two Thousand Years Later, the World Takes Its First Look at King Philip II of Macedonia

updated 12/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

The man on the left is Richard Neave, 46, an English medical illustrator who also rebuilds faces from skulls. The fellow above is Macedonia's King Philip II, staring out at the world for the first time since 336 B.C. If he's frowning, well, remember that Philip was murdered, an act that enabled his son, Alexander the Great, to begin conquering the world. In Vergina, Greece in 1977, archaeologist Manolis Andronikos dug up what are now believed to be the royal remains. In 1981 Neave was asked to re-create, from casts of skull fragments, the dead ruler's visage. Is the wax likeness accurate? "There are certain principles that decide approximately how wide a mouth is, how long a nose, the position of the eyes within the sockets," says Neave, who sometimes uses his skills to help British police identify remains. (The technique is also seen in the recently released movie version of Gorky Park.) "What you can't tell is how fat or thin a person was, whether they had wrinkled brows, and you don't have anything to indicate the shape of the ears. Also, you can't tell the color of their eyes." The Vergina bones did, however, bear damage near the right eye. According to the Greek historian Didymus Chalcenterus, Philip II was blinded in the right eye by an arrow in 354 B.C.

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