As was done when other remains were discovered at the Pompeii site, archaeologists poured liquid chalk into the cavities, or void, left by the decaying bodies in the ashes and pumice that rained down. of the volcano near modern Naples and demolished the upper levels of the villa.
The technique, developed in the 1800s, not only conveys the shape and position of victims in the death throes, but makes the remains “look like statues,” said Massimo Osanna, an archaeologist who is director general of archeology. park managed under the jurisdiction of the Italian Ministry of Culture.
Judging by the skull bones and teeth, one of the men was young, probably between 18 and 25, with a spine with compressed discs. This discovery led archaeologists to hypothesize that he was a young man who did manual labor, like that of a slave.
The other man had a sturdy bone structure, especially in his chest area, and died with his hands on his chest and his legs bent and spread apart. He is estimated to be between 30 and 40 years old, Pompeii officials said. Fragments of white paint were found near the man’s face, likely remnants of a collapsed upper wall, officials said.
The two skeletons were found in a side room along an underground hallway, or passage, known in Roman antiquity as the cryptoporticus, which led to the upper level of the villa.
“The victims were probably looking for shelter in the cryptoporticus, in this underground space, where they thought they were better protected,” Osanna said.
Instead, on the morning of October 25, 79 AD, a “flaming cloud (of volcanic material) arrived in Pompeii and… killed everyone it encountered on its way,” Osanna said.
Based on the impression of folds of fabric left in the ash layer, it appeared that the young man was wearing a short, pleated tunic, possibly made of wool. The older victim, in addition to wearing a tunic, appeared to have a cloak over his left shoulder.
Vesuvius remains an active volcano. As excavations continue at the site near Naples, tourists are currently excluded from the archaeological park under national anti-COVID-19 measures.
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