Pompeii: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Somehow, I was under the impression that the entire city of Pompeii had been excavated from under the ash, rock, and lava of the 79 AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Not so. A new project to extend the excavation has uncovered its first victim of the volcano, and his fate appears to foreshadow that of a certain coyote in a Looney Tunes cartoon.           

Initial observations would appear to indicate that the individual survived the first eruptive phase of the volcano, and subsequently sought salvation along the alley now covered in a thick layer of lapilli. The body was found at the height of the first floor of the adjacent building, and thus above the lapilli layer. 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, which lie at a lower height of the lower limbs, and probably under the stone block.

The skeleton is identified as that of a male, over 30 years of age, with a bone disease that would have impeded his escape. Read more about the discovery at Parco Arceologico Di Pompei.  -via Boing Boing

(Image credit: Pompeii - Parco Archeologico)

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