A few meters of volcanic rocks covered it.
An approximately 2,000-year-old skeleton was discovered in Herculaneum (Italy), Italy on Friday, according to the head of the area archaeological park, Francesco Sirano.
Aged forty years, the man was submerged by lava in the year 79, at the same time as the eruption which ravaged Pompeii, a neighboring city.
The excavations and analyzes that will be carried out on his remains will allow us to learn more about the Roman drama.
His remains were discovered where the shore of Herculaneum was then, before the eruption of Vesuvius and the lava flows pushed him back to 500 m, solidifying in contact with water.
Read alsoHow did the inhabitants of Pompeii live, before the eruption of Vesuvius
Death in the Face
The man probably saw death in the face when he was submerged by the molten lava that blanketed the city, Sirano told Italian news agency ANSA.
"He could have been a rescuer," suggested the specialist.
At the time of the eruption, a fleet, led by the commander and writer Pliny the Elder, came to the rescue of the inhabitants.
Pliny the Elder died on the shore, but his officers reportedly managed to evacuate hundreds of survivors.
The skeleton could also have been that of "of the fugitives" who tried to join one of the rescue boats, "perhaps the last unlucky of a group which managed to get to sea", added Mr. Sirano.
He was discovered under the remains of charred wood, including the beam of a house that may have shattered his skull, while his bones were a red color, presumably traces of blood left when he was washed away by the violence of the rash.
Archaeologists have also discovered traces of fabric and metal objects, possibly the remains of personal items that the man allegedly took while fleeing, such as a bag, tools, or even weapons or coins, explained the archaeologist.
Other human remains have been discovered in and around Herculaneum, including a skull kept in a Roman museum that some have attributed to Pliny, but the latest find can be studied with modern techniques that allow "to understand more" , underlined Mr. Sirano.
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How to explain that the bones were not entirely consumed by the lava, which rose to more than 500 degrees?
According to the researchers, the soft tissues were vaporized on contact with the glowing material, but a sharp drop in temperatures kept what was left.
A study published in 2020 in
The New England Journal of Medicine
documents this phenomenon.
Scientists believe that some of the remains discovered in Herculaneum were vitrified by this mechanism.
They believe that they have found glass… made from human brains.