Houston Matters

Forensic Artist Puts New Faces On An Old Story From The Texas Revolution

Amanda Danning is reconstructing the faces of Mexican soldiers who died at the Battle of San Jacinto. She tells Michael Hagerty what their skulls tell us about how they died.

Mexican Solider Facial Reconstruction - Battle of San Jacinto


True crime fans are familiar with the concept of forensic artists using clay sculpting to recreate what a dead person might have looked like, in order to help law enforcement identify human remains.

But, one of those forensic artists is using her skills not to identify murder victims, but to recreate some lost faces from history – namely soldiers who fought and died at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836.

Amanda Danning is using her skills to help the San Jacinto Project put faces on five soldiers from the Mexican army, led by Santa Anna, who died in the battle that ultimately won Texas its independence.

Forensic Artist Amanda Danning
Forensic artist Amanda Danning works to reconstruct the face of a Mexican soldier whose skull was found at the site of the Battle of San Jacinto.

Four of the skulls are in process and will be displayed at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville. And Danning will do one more each of the next two years.

In the audio above, Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty talks with Danning about her work on the project and the science that guides the reconstructive process.

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