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article imageGrim reminder found in Pompeii shows why volcanoes are dangerous

By Karen Graham     May 30, 2018 in Science
Pompeii is famed for its ruins containing the remains of citizens preserved in the ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. But a skeleton unearthed recently may well be the remains of the unluckiest man in history.
The ancient city of Pompeii, buried by a violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE has been a virtual history book - giving us a brief glimpse into the cultural and socioeconomic climate at that time.
And while it may seem we have a morbid curiosity with our examination of the remains of the dead - long buried under the layers of ash, scientists are getting valuable information about the city, its residents, and their lifestyles. And the public has seen images that are heartbreaking, from individuals to whole families - struck down in a moment in time.
A depiction of the eruption which buried Pompeii (from BBC s Pompeii: The Last Day).
A depiction of the eruption which buried Pompeii (from BBC's Pompeii: The Last Day).
Wikimedia Commons
And just when we thought we had seen the most horrific images depicting deaths in Pompeii, we now learn that a fresh excavation site at a crossroads has revealed a skeleton with a large block of stone crushing its head. The images were released by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism.
First victim of new excavation
The researchers say an initial analysis of the scene reveals the unlucky victim likely survived the first phase of the eruption, perhaps hiding in an alley, now covered in a thick layer of lapilli, or rock fragments hurled by the volcano. The body was found at the height of the first floor of an adjacent building, well above the layer of rock fragments.
Here he was struck by the dense pyroclastic flow which threw him back. "A formidable stone block (perhaps a door jamb), violently thrown by the volcanic cloud, collided with his upper body, crushing the highest part of the thorax and yet-to-be-identified head," the researchers say.
The house of theSilver Wedding  This is a copy of an image from 1899.
The house of theSilver Wedding, This is a copy of an image from 1899.
Internet Archive Book Images
From what the researchers are saying the rock, which weighed 300-kilograms (661-pounds) was fairly heavy and could have been a door jamb, but they point out it could have easily been a projectile violently thrown by the volcanic eruption, sort of like the "lava splatters" being seen in Hawaii with the Kilauea volcano.
After an examination by anthropologists at the site, it was determined the skeleton was of a man, perhaps about 30-years-old. Lesions were found on the tibia, indicating a bone infection, which could have caused him a great deal of difficulty in walking. The disability may have impeded his ability to get away safely.
"This exceptional find, - declares Massimo Osanna - reminds us of an analogous case, that of a skeleton discovered by Amedeo Maiuri in the House of the Smith, and which was recently studied. These were the remains of a limping individual - he too was likely impeded in his escape by motor difficulties and left exposed at the time in situ."
The new excavations of Regio V, where this extraordinary discovery took place, are part of the intervention to stabilize the excavation fronts within the ancient city, envisaged by the Great Pompeii Project.
The archaeological excavations underway are focused on the area of the so-called 'Wedge', located between the House of the Silver Wedding and the House of Marcus Lucretius Fronto.
The Internet has a field day with the images
It was to be expected, and social media did not let anyone down in responding to the images released on this latest discovery at Pompeii. And while the image shows us it was a particularly gruesome death, and I do hope the man did not suffer, IFLSience says that since the story came out, the Internet has turned the poor man's demise into a joke.
The responses ranged from outright sympathy to tongue-in-cheek comments to LMAO comments.
CNN on Twitter
And this is my favorite:
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