Jesus's face has often been depicted in religious pieces of art as white with narrow features, framed by long, flowing hair, but a new discovery by scientists could change our perceptions of the religious icon completely.
The Son of God is now believed to have had a darker complexion, with a wider face, dark eyes, short curly hair and a bushy beard.
The discovery comes after a British scientist teamed up with Israeli archaeologists to analyse ancient Semite skulls using forensic anthropology - a method commonly used by police to solve crimes.
Jesus's face, according to experts
Richard Neave, a retired British anatomical artist, used forensic data from the skulls of first century Jewish men to illustrate what Jesus might have looked like.
The findings were first printed in 2002 in Popular Magazine, but came to light again when the article was republished in Esquire on Friday.
Neave X-rayed "slices" of the skulls, thereby revealing intricate details of each one's structure.
Using special computer programmes, the teams evaluated reams of information about known measurements of the thickness of soft tissue at key areas on human faces.
As a result they were able to re-create the muscles and skin overlying a representative Semite skull.
A digital 3D reconstruction of the face was then built before creating a cast of the skull and adding layers of clay to match the thickness of facial tissues calculated by the program.
The nose, lips and eyelids were then modelled to follow the shape of the underlying muscles predicted by the shape of the skulls.
Religious depictions of Jesus Christ
Factors that could not be determined from the skull were Jesus's hair and colouration.
In order to work out how these might look, Neave and his team used drawings found at various archaeological sites, Popular Mechanics reports.
Because Jesus was described as closely resembling his disciples, the team determined that he would have had facial features typical of Galilean Semites of his era.
Although most religious artists put long hair on Christ, many biblical scholars now believe that he most likely had short hair with tight curls.
While forensic depictions are not an exact science, experts have said that this latest representation is one of the closest resemblances to Jesus that there has been.
Alison Galloway, professor of anthropology at the University of California, told Popular Mechanics that: "In some cases the resemblance between the reconstruction and the actual individual can be uncanny.
"But in others there may be more resemblance with the other work of the same artist."
She added: "This is probably a lot closer to the truth than the work of many great masters."
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