Science

A skeleton discovered at Herculaneum should shed new light on the eruption of Vesuvius

A skeleton discovered in Herculaneum (Italy), a city buried under lava during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD at the same time as Pompeii, could shed new light on this disaster, the head of the Herculaneum archaeological park declared this Friday. , Francesco Sirano.

The remains of a 40- to 45-year-old man were discovered under meters of volcanic rock where the coast of Herculaneum lay, before the eruption of Vesuvius and lava flows pushed it back 500 meters.

He probably saw death on his face the moment he was submerged by molten lava that covered the city, Sirano told the Italian news agency ANSA. “He could have been a rescuer,” suggested the specialist.

At the time of the eruption, a fleet, led by the commander and writer Pliny the Elder, came to the rescue of the inhabitants. Pliny the Elder died on the shore, but his officers allegedly managed to evacuate hundreds of survivors.

The skeleton could also be that of one “of the fugitives” who tried to reach one of the rescue boats, “possibly the last unfortunate of a group that managed to put to sea”, M Sirano.

He was discovered under the remains of charred wood, including the beam of a house that may have shattered his skull, while his bones were a red color, presumably traces of blood that were left when he was swept away by the violence of the rash.

Archaeologists have also discovered traces of cloth and metal objects, possibly the remains of personal items that the man allegedly took while fleeing, such as a purse, tools, or even weapons or coins, the archaeologist explained.

Other human remains have been found in and around Herculaneum, including a skull kept in a Roman museum that some have attributed to Pliny, but the latest find can be studied with modern techniques that allow “more understanding”, Mr Sirano stressed.

According to the researchers, the temperature rose to 500 degrees during the eruption, enough to vaporize the soft tissue, then there was a sharp drop in temperature allowing what was left over.

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