The remains of a rich man and a slave killed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius 2,000 years ago have been discovered in Pompeii, Italy.
The ancient Roman city, near Naples, was destroyed by the volcanic eruption in AD 79, and our understanding of what took place is still being explained by discoveries such as this.
The bodies were unearthed from a 6.5ft layer of grey ash in the underground chamber of a large villa.
Archaeologists have deduced that one victim was aged between 18 and 23 and likely to have been a slave, as he was found to have a number of crushed vertebrae, indicative of hard labour.
The other is estimated to have been between 30 and 40 and affluent, as traces of a woollen cloak were found beneath his neck.
Massimo Osanna, Director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, said: "These two victims were perhaps seeking refuge in the cryptoporticus, where instead they are swept away by the pyroclastic current at nine in the morning.
"A death from thermal shock, as evidenced by the limbs, feet, hands contracted. A death that for us today is an incredible source of knowledge."
The team used a technique pioneered in the second half of the nineteenth century, whereby a casting liquid is poured into the cavities left by the bodies.
Once the plaster has solidified, the surrounding soil is then removed, revealing in detail the form of the bodies.
+++ SCOPERTA A #POMPEI +++ Rivive a @pompeii_sites la tecnica di realizzazione dei calchi ideata nell'Ottocento da G. Fiorelli: portati alla luce un ricco pompeiano e il suo schiavo, morti nel 79 d.C. nell'eruzione del Vesuvio. @dariofrance @MassimoOsanna https://t.co/LISlkKIZwG pic.twitter.com/Y82BMTc6Kg
- MiBACT (@_MiBACT) November 21, 2020
Dario Franceschini, minister for cultural heritage, activities and tourism, said: "This extraordinary discovery demonstrates that Pompeii is important in the world not only for the huge number of tourists, but because it is an incredible place for research, study, training.
"There are still more than twenty hectares to be excavated, a great job for the archaeologists of today and of the future."
It is not clear how many people lost their lives in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, but the remains of more than 1,500 people have been discovered thus far.
Pompeii is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular tourist destination, however, it is currently closed due to coronavirus restrictions.
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