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By Culturekiosque Staff

BEIRUT, LEBANON, 14 FEBRUARY 2014 — The American Univerisity of Beirut Archaeological Museum opened a special exhibition recently, showcasing a reconstruction of a Phoenician man, whose 2500-year-old skeleton was discovered in Tunis, in 1994. 

The reconstruction uses criminal investigation techniques and dermoplasty, a procedure that relies on skin grafts to recreate molds, to produce an impressive, life-like prototype of a Phoenician man, which was accomplished by Elisabeth Daynes, a French dermoplastic sculptor and specialist.

Estimated to be between 19 and 24 years old at time of death, the young man of Carthage was about 170 centimeters tall, and bore physical features that have come to be associated with Phoenicians – a broad forehead, high orbits and long skull. The reconstruction is considered to be 95 percent accurate, since the color of eyes, hair, and skin could not be verified through criminal investigation techniques.

He was named Arish, or "the beloved one," according to Punic inscriptions.

As is often the case with archaeological finds, his skeleton was discovered by mistake, when the curator of the Tunis National Museum, Abedelmagid Ennable, was trying to plant a tree back in 1994, and while digging, he uncovered a tomb, where Arish was buried.

The skeleton used to remodel the 2,500-year-old man from Byrsa
AFP Photo/Joseph Eid

According to legend, Elissa the daughter of the king of Tyre, founded Carthage around 814 B.C. With time Tyre’s colony became an important economic and commercial power in the Mediterranean.

"When I found out about Arish during an international museum meeting in Paris, I was thrilled and eager to invite him to the AUB museum and the land of his ancestors," said Leila Badre, museum director. "This is the first time we import an exhibition."

While the recreated man was brought to AUB, it was not possible to ship his skeleton, due to the difficulty of transporting human bones across countries. Instead, the museum decided to show one of the skeletons in its own collection.

Arish, along with some items discovered in the tomb, are on display at the AUB Museum, in an exhibition entitled The Young Phoenician Man of Carthage, organized by the Society of the Friends of the AUB Museum in collaboration with the National Museum of Carthage. The exhibition runs through 26 February 2014. 

Headline Photo: Reconstructed prototype of a young Phoenician man of Byrsa (Carthage), based on a 2500-year-old skeleton discovered in Tunis in 1994. Prototype is on loan from the National Museum of Carthage.

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