National Geographic : 2006 Feb
GEOGRAPHICA TECHNOLOGY Reconstructing a President Scientists turn back the clock on Washington Jeff Schwartz knows bones. As a physical anthropologist, he brings fossils to life. But when Schwartz signed on to help make the first historically accurate models of George Wash ington for Mount Vernon, the first President's home, he began empty handed. Out of respect for the founding father, his bones were leftinterred. So Schwartz worked in reverse. To determine Wash ington's bone structure, he used surviving clothing and portraits like the one above, as well as laser scans of a bust, a life mask, and several sets of dentures. The team's computer-modeling experts then created a three dimensional figure of Washing ton as he likely looked at 57, his age when he became President. From there Schwartz worked with historians to shave off years, taking into account details like the corsets 18th-century children wore that sloped their shoulders. He also focused on the jawline. At 19 Washington had all of his teeth. By 57 his jaw had softened after losing all but one. And his dentures, made of human teeth (not wood), hurt and fit so poorly that he often kept his mouth shut just to keep them in. "He appears standoffish;" says Schwartz. "But anyone would with that much dental pain." - Whitney Dangerfield NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * FEBRUARY 2006 ALLIMAGESCOURTESYMOUNTVERNONLADIES'ASSOCIATION; MODELSBY JEFFREYH. SCHWARTZANDPARTNERSHIP FORRESEARCHINSPATIALMODELING George Washington at age 19, when he was a land surveyor in Ohio; at 45, as a battle-hardened Revolutionary War general; and at 57, as the newly inaugurated first President of the United States. The three models-with clothes and hair-will go on display inOctober at the President's former Virginia estate, Mount Vernon.