Vesuvius' Eruption Didn't Kill Newly Found Bodies in Pompeii

Archeologists speculate the men were killed during quakes accompanying the eruption
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2023 3:03 PM CDT
New Bodies Discovered in Pompeii Not Killed by Vesuvius
A picture made available by the Pompeii Archeological Park press office, showing two skeletons that archeologists believe were men who died when a wall collapsed on them during the powerful earthquakes that accompanied the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.   (Pompeii Archeological Park via AP)

A pair of newly discovered skeletons dating from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius 2,000 years ago are adding to the tragic story of the destruction of Pompeii, which wasn't inflicted solely by the eruption, reports USA Today. In a statement, Pompeii archaeological park director Gabriel Zuchtriegel writes that the skeletons were discovered during excavations of a location dubbed the House of the Chaste Lovers, and that they died not due to volcanic ash and gas but in the earthquake that accompanied it. "In recent years, we have realized there were violent, powerful seismic events that were happening at the time of the eruption,'' said Zuchtriegel, per the AP.

Zuchtriegel says the pair "were found lying on one side in a utility room ... where they had taken refuge in search of protection," and were likely middle-aged males who died as the building collapsed on top of them. One of the skeletons was found with a raised arm, as if attempting to block falling debris, offering what Zuchtriegel calls "a tragic image of his vain attempt to protect himself."

CBS News notes that in the past 250 years, archaeologists have unearthed the remains of over 1,300 victims that the site south of Naples. A previous discovery in November 2020 appeared to be the bodies of a young enslaved person and his owner. Vesuvius' eruption killed up to 20% of the city's population, estimate archaeologists, most of them succumbing to what eyewitness Pliny the Younger described as "broad sheets of fire and leaping flames" and "a dense black cloud...spreading over the earth like a flood." (More Pompeii stories.)

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