The bodies of two men fleeing from Vesuvius discovered in Pompeii

The ashes of Pompeii never stop giving surprises. The discovery that the Archaeological Park disclosed this Saturday is extraordinary: they have found the skeletons of two individuals trapped by the fury of Vesuvius in the 79 d.C., apparently a man in his 40s and his young slave, in the same position in which they were surprised by the second violent eruption of the volcano.

Both have been discovered in a lateral space of the Cryptortico, in the noble part of the town of Civita Giuliana, a majestic estate with lounges and views of the sea from the time of Emperor Augustus who was outside Pompeii, about 700 meters northwest of the city. It is the same area where archaeologists found the remains of three horses in the stables in 2017, with their harnesses and saddles.

It is the same area where archaeologists found the remains of three horses in the stables in 2017, with their harnesses and saddles.

The victims would have been killed by the so-called second pyroclastic current, which in the early hours of the morning of October 25, almost 2,000 years ago, ended the lives of those who had survived the first eruption. The second current was very fast and turbulent, destroying the first floors of the houses and surprised the population of Pompeii and its surroundings as they fled over a few centimeters of ashes from the first, leading them to death.

“The two victims were perhaps seeking refuge when they were swept away by the pyroclastic current, around nine in the morning,” explains the director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park, Massimo Osanna. “They died of heat stroke, as evidenced by their contracted hands and feet.”

Archaeologists have reconstructed their figures by inserting plaster into the cavities of the skeletal remains

After analyzing the bones, the experts from Pompeii have reconstructed the bodies with the ancient technique of making molds with plaster, invented by Giuseppe Fiorelli in 1867. It consists of introducing liquid plaster into the cavities of the bone remains of the inhabitants of the ancient Roman city. .

Through this technique they have been able to verify that the first man, with his head reclined, appears to be a young man between 18 and 25 years old and about 152 centimeters tall, who wore a short tunic and that archaeologists believe he was a slave because his bones are worn down by hard manual work. The second man, who they imagine was their master, was between 30 and 40 years old and was about 162 cm tall. At the time of his death he wore a long robe or woolen cloak, a more sumptuous wardrobe than that of his fellow destiny.

Detail of one of the bodies. (Parco Archeologico di Pompei via AP) (AP)

A meter from them, objects such as a woolen cloak that they lost during the escape have been found. Both can be seen in a supine position, that is, face up, and with the hands on the chest. The discovery is sensational because even the folds of the clothes they were wearing can be distinguished.

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini has said that this discovery demonstrates Pompeii’s importance as a place of study. And he warns: “There are still more than twenty hectares to excavate, a great job for archaeologists of today and the future.”

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