The ossified remains of a victim could help solve a historical riddle …
In the ancient city of Herculaneum near Pompeii, the discovery of a skeleton promises new insights into the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. The remains of a man between the ages of 40 and 45, said the director of the Herculaneum Archaeological Park, Francesco Sirano, told the Italian news agency Ansa on Friday. “He could have been a rescue worker.”
The petrified body was found at a point on the coast of Herculaneum before lava flows pushed it back a good 500 meters. Sirano suspected that the man had probably looked death straight in the face as the lava rolled towards him.
At the time of the outbreak, a fleet led by the general and writer Pliny the Elder had come to the aid of the residents of Herculaneum. Pliny the Elder died on the coast, but his officers managed to get hundreds of survivors to safety.
The dead man could also have been “one of those who escaped,” said the expert. The man may have tried to reach one of the lifeboats. “Maybe he was the straggler of a group that made it out to sea.” The skeleton was found under charred remains of wood. A falling beam of a house could have smashed the man’s skull.
The archaeologists also found traces of fabrics and metal objects. It could be the remains of the man’s personal belongings, such as a bag, tools or even weapons and coins.
The ancient cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae and Oplontis in Italy were buried in AD 79 by a violent eruption of the Vesuvius volcano. The volcano was active for centuries afterwards. It has been in a dormant phase since the last eruption in 1944.