Skip to main content Accessibility help

A Late Pleistocene woman from Tham Lod, Thailand: the influence of today on a face from the past

  • Susan Hayes (a1) (a2), Rasmi Shoocongdej (a3) (a4), Natthamon Pureepatpong (a4), Sanjai Sangvichien (a5) and Kanoknart Chintakanon (a4)...


Creating a facial appearance for individuals from the distant past is often highly problematic, even when verified methods are used. This is especially so in the case of non-European individuals, as the reference populations used to estimate the face tend to be heavily biased towards the average facial variation of recent people of European descent. To evaluate the problem, a facial approximation of a young woman from the Late Pleistocene rockshelter of Tham Lod in north-western Thailand was compared against the average facial variation of datasets from recent populations. The analysis indicated that the Tham Lod facial approximation was neither overtly recent in facial morphology, nor overtly European. The case is of particular interest as the Tham Lod individual probably belonged to a population ancestral to extant Australo-Melanesian peoples.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      A Late Pleistocene woman from Tham Lod, Thailand: the influence of today on a face from the past
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      A Late Pleistocene woman from Tham Lod, Thailand: the influence of today on a face from the past
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      A Late Pleistocene woman from Tham Lod, Thailand: the influence of today on a face from the past
      Available formats


Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence (Email:


Hide All
Amphansri, A. 2011. Temporal and spatial analysis of faunal remains from Tham Lod rockshelter site, Pang Mapha District, Mae Hong Son Province. Unpublished MA dissertation, Silpakorn University.
Brace, C.L., Rosenberg, K.R. & Hunt, K.D.. 1987. Gradual change in human tooth size in the late Pleistocene and post-Pleistocene. Evolution 41: 705–20.
Bronk Ramsey, C. 2009. Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon 51: 337–60.
Chitkament, T., Gaillard, C. & Shoocongdej, R.. 2015. Tham Lod rockshelter (Pang Mapha District, north-western Thailand): evolution of the lithic assemblages during the late Pleistocene. Quaternary International 416: 151–61.
Curnoe, D., Ji, X., Herries, A.I.R., Bai, K., Taçon, P.S.C., Bao, Z., Fink, D., Zhu, Y., Hellstrom, J., Luo, Y., Cassis, G., Su, B., Wroe, S., Hong, S., Parr, W.C.H., Huang, S. & Rogers, N.. 2012. Human remains from the Pleistocene–Holocene transition of southwest China suggest a complex evolutionary history for East Asians. PLoS ONE 7: e31918.
Driessen, J.P., Vuyk, H. & Borgstein, J.. 2011. New insights into facial anthropometry in digital photographs using iris-dependent calibration. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 75: 579–84.
Duggan, A.T. & Stoneking, M.. 2014. Recent developments in the genetic history of East Asia and Oceania. Current Opinion in Genetics and Development 29: 914.
Farkas, L.G. & Munro, I.R.. 1987. Anthropometric facial proportions in medicine. Springfield (IL): Charles C. Thomas.
Farkas, L.G., Katic, M.J., Forrest, C.R., Alt, K.W., Bagic, I., Baltadjiev, G., Cunha, E., Cvicelová, M., Davies, S., Erasmus, I., Gillett-Netting, R., Hajnis, K., Kemkes-Grottenthaler, A., Khomyakova, I., Kumi, A., Kgamphe, J.S., Kayo-daigo, N., Le, T., Malinowski, A., Negasheva, M., Manolis, S., Ogetürk, M., Parvizrad, R., Rösing, F., Sahu, P., Sforza, C., Sivkov, S., Sultanova, N., Tomazo-Ravnik, T., Tóth, G., Uzun, A. & Yahia, E.. 2005. International anthropometric study of facial morphology in various ethnic groups/races. Journal of Craniofacial Surgery 16: 615–46. 58031.9e
Guyomarc'h, P., Dutailly, B., Couture, C. & Coqueugniot, H.. 2012. Anatomical placement of the human eyeball in the orbit—validation using CT scans of living adults and prediction for facial approximation. Journal of Forensic Sciences 57: 1271–75.
Hammer, Ø., Harper, D. & Ryan, P.. 2001. PAST-PAlaeontological STatistics. Available at: (accessed 12 January 2017).
Harvati, K. 2009. Into Eurasia: a geometric morphometric re-assessment of the Upper Cave (Zhoukoudian) specimens. Journal of Human Evolution 57: 751–62.
Hayes, S. 2014. Facial approximation of ‘Angel’: case-specific methodological review. Forensic Science International 237: e30–41.
Hayes, S. 2016. Faces in the museum: revising the methods of facial reconstructions. Museum Management and Curatorship 31: 218–45.
Hayes, S., Sutikna, T. & Morwood, M.. 2013. Faces of Homo floresiensis (LB1). Journal of Archaeological Science 40: 4400–10.
Holden, C. 1998. Kennewick Man realized. Science 279: 1137.
Khaokhiew, C. 2004. Geoarchaeology of Tham Lod rockshelter, Changwat Mae Hong Son, northern Thailand. Unpublished MA dissertation, Chulalongkorn University.
Khlaewkhampud, V. 2003. Archaeology at the Tham Lod rockshelter: way of life of people in the Late Pleistocene–Early Holocene, in Shoocongdej, R. (ed.) Proceedings of the Ancient Man, Culture and Environment of the Highland in Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son Province Conference, 20–21 February: 6076. Bangkok: Department of Archaeology, Silpakorn University (in Thai).
Kiliaridis, S., Georgiakaki, I. & Katsaros, C.. 2003. Masseter muscle thickness and maxillary dental arch width. European Journal of Orthodontics 25: 259–63.
Kutanan, W., Kampuansai, J., Colonna, V., Nakbunlung, S., Lertvicha, P., Seielstad, M., Bertorelle, G. & Kangwanpong, D.. 2011. Genetic affinity and admixture of northern Thai people along their migration route in northern Thailand: evidence from autosomal STR loci. Journal of Human Genetics 56: 130–37.
Lipson, M., Loh, P.-R., Patterson, N., Moorjani, P., Ko, Y.-C., Stoneking, M., Berger, B. & Reich, D.. 2014. Reconstructing Austronesian population history in Island Southeast Asia. Nature Communications 5: article no. 4689.
Marwick, B. 2008. Stone artefacts and recent research in the archaeology of mainland Southeast Asian hunter-gatherers. Before Farming 2008 (4): 119.
Marwick, B. & Gagan, M.K.. 2011. Late Pleistocene monsoon variability in northwest Thailand: an oxygen isotope sequence from the bivalve Margaritanopsis laosensis excavated in Mae Hong Son Province. Quaternary Science Reviews 30: 3088–98.
Matsumura, H. & Oxenham, M.F.. 2014. Demographic transitions and migration in prehistoric East/Southeast Asia through the lens of nonmetric dental traits. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 155: 4565.
Puavaranukroh, P. & Srettabunjong, S.. 2011. Facial soft tissue thickness in Thai adult cadavers. Vajira Medical Journal 54: 267–79.
Pureepatpong, N. 2006. Recent investigations of early people (late Pleistocene to early Holocene) from Ban Rai and Tham Lod rockshelter sites, Pang Mapha District, Mae Hongson Province, north-western Thailand, in Bacus, E., Glover, I. & Pigott, V. (ed.) Uncovering Southeast Asia's past: selected papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists: 3845. Singapore: NUS Press.
Reimer, P.J., Bard, E., Bayliss, A., Beck, J.W., Blackwell, P.G., Bronk Ramsey, C., Buck, C.E., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., Friedrich, M., Grootes, P.M., Guilderson, T.P., Haflidason, H., Hajdas, I., Hatté, C., Heaton, T.J., Hoffmann, D.L., Hogg, A.G., Hughen, K.A., Kaiser, K.F., Kromer, B., Manning, S.W., Niu, M., Reimer, R.W., Richards, D.A., Scott, E.M., Southon, J.R., Staff, R.A., Turney, C.S.M. & van der Plicht, J.. 2013. IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55: 1869–87.
Rynn, C., Wilkinson, M. & Peters, H.. 2010. Prediction of nasal morphology from the skull. Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology 6: 2034.
Sangvichien, S. 1985. Stature estimations from the length of leg bones in Thai and Chinese populations. Journal of Sarn Siriraj 37: 215–18 (in Thai).
Shoocongdej, R. (ed.). 2003–2005. Progress report 1-3, Highland Archaeological Project in Pang Mapha phase II. Report prepared for Thailand Research Funds, Bangkok (in Thai).
Shoocongdej, R. (ed.). 2006. Late Pleistocene activities at the Tham Lod rockshelter in Highland Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son Province, northwestern Thailand, in Bacus, E., Glover, I. & Pigott, V. (ed.) Uncovering Southeast Asia's past: selected papers from the 10th Annual Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists: 2237. Singapore: NUS Press.
Shoocongdej, R. (ed). 2007. Final report of the Highlands Archeology Project in Pang Mapha. Report prepared for Thailand Research Funds, Bangkok (in Thai).
Song, W.-C., Kim, S.-H., Paik, D.-J., Han, S.-H., Hu, K.-S., Kim, H.-J. & Koh, K.-S.. 2007. Location of the infraorbital and mental foramen with reference to the soft-tissue landmarks. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 120: 1343–47. 86727.5a
Standring, S. (ed.). 2008. Gray's anatomy: the anatomical basis of clinical practice. New York: Elsevier.
Stephan, C.N. 2002a. Facial approximation: globe projection guideline falsified by exophthalmometry literature. Journal of Forensic Sciences 47: 730–35.
Stephan, C.N. 2002b. Position of superciliare in relation to the lateral iris: testing a suggested facial approximation guideline. Forensic Science International 130: 2933.
Stephan, C.N. 2003. Facial approximation: an evaluation of mouth-width determination. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 121: 4857.
Stephan, C.N. & Davidson, P.L.. 2008. The placement of the human eyeball and canthi in craniofacial identification. Journal of Forensic Sciences 53: 612–19. j.1556-4029.2008.00718.x
Stephan, C.N. & Murphy, S.. 2008. Mouth width prediction in craniofacial identification: cadaver tests of four recent methods, including two techniques for edentulous skulls. Journal of Forensic Odonto-Stomatology 26(1): 27.
Stephan, C.N. & Simpson, E.K.. 2008. Facial soft tissue depths in craniofacial identification (part 1): an analytical review of the published adult data. Journal of Forensic Sciences 53: 1257–72.
Stephan, C.N., Huang, A.J.R. & Davidson, P.L.. 2009. Further evidence on the anatomical placement of the human eyeball for facial approximation and craniofacial superimposition. Journal of Forensic Sciences 54: 267–69.
Sun, H., Zhou, C., Huang, X., Lin, K., Shi, L., Yu, L., Liu, S., Chu, J. & Yang, Z.. 2013. Autosomal STRs provide genetic evidence for the hypothesis that Tai people originate from southern China. PLoS ONE 8: e60822. 0060822
Velemínská, J., Brůžek, J., Velemínský, P., Bigoni, L., Šefčáková, A. & Katina, S.. 2008. Variability of the Upper Palaeolithic skulls from Předmostí near Přerov (Czech Republic): craniometric comparison with recent human standards. HOMO: Journal of Comparative Human Biology 59: 126.
Wangkumhang, P., Shaw, P.J., Chaichoompu, K., Ngamphiw, C., Assawamakin, A., Nuinoon, M., Sripichai, O., Svasti, S., Fucharoen, S. & Praphanphoj, V.. 2013. Insight into the peopling of mainland southeast Asia from Thai population genetic structure. PLoS ONE 8: e79522.
Wattanapituksakul, S. 2006. Late Pleistocene mammal teeth from the Tham Lod rockshelter, Amphoe Pang Mapha, Changwat Mae Hong Son. Unpublished MSc dissertation, Department of Geology, Chulalongkorn University.
Whitnall, S. 1911. On a tubercle on the malar bone, and on the lateral attachments of the tarsal plates. Journal of Anatomy and Physiology 45: 426–32.
Wilkinson, C., Motwani, M. & Chiang, E.. 2003. The relationship between the soft tissues and the skeletal detail of the mouth. Journal of Forensic Sciences 48: 728–32.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Hayes supplementary material
Hayes supplementary material

 PDF (450 KB)
450 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed