“These two victims were maybe looking for shelter when they were swept away by the pyroclastic current at around 9 in the morning.”
Archaeologists have discovered the extraordinarily well-preserved remains of two men burnt to death by the volcanic emission that annihilated the old Roman city of Pompeii in 79 AD, the Italian culture ministry said on Saturday.
One was presumably a man of high status, aged somewhere in the range of 30 and 40, who still bore hints of a woolen cloak under his neck.
The second, presumably aged 18 to 25, was wearing a tunic and had various crushed vertebrae, showing that he had been a slave who did heavy work.
The remains were found in Civita Giuliana, 700 meters northwest of the center of old Pompeii, in an underground chamber in the territory of an enormous villa being excavated.
The men’s teeth and bones were preserved, and the voids left by their soft tissues were loaded up with plaster that was left to solidify and afterward excavated to show the outline of their bodies.
“These two victims were maybe looking for asylum when they were cleared away by the pyroclastic current at around 9 toward the beginning of the day,” said Massimo Osanna, head of the archaeological site. “It is a death by thermal shock, as also demonstrated by their clenched feet and hands.”
In a statement, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the find underlined Pompeii’s status as “an incredible spot for research and study.”
Pompeii, 23 km (14 miles) southeast of Naples, was home to around 13,000 people when the eruption covered it under debris, pumice pebbles, and dust, freezing it in time.
The remains were not found until the sixteenth century and organized excavations started around 1750. Nonetheless, more recently, attention has zeroed in on capturing the decay or collapse of the exposed ruins.