Skeleton unearthed of man crushed by Vesuvius stone as he fled eruption

Officials say man had suffered from a leg infection that may have impeded his escape

Wednesday 30 May 2018 16:35
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The skeleton was found sprawled beneath a large block of stone which covered where its head would have been. Ciro Fusco/EPA
The skeleton was found sprawled beneath a large block of stone which covered where its head would have been. Ciro Fusco/EPA

The skeleton of a man crushed by an enormous stone as he attempted to flee the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD has been discovered at the Pompeii archaeological site in Southern Italy.

A photograph showing the bones protruding from beneath a large block of stone that may have been a door jamb which had been “violently thrown by the volcanic cloud”.

“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 probably lies under the stone block,” archaeologists said in a statement.

The victim, who was estimated to be over 30, had his thorax crushed. Archaeologists have not found the head.

Officials said the man had suffered from a leg infection that may have caused walking difficulties and thus impeded his escape.

The man's ancient remains were uncovered in an area of new excavations, near a newly-discovered alleyway of balconied houses.

The archaeological site’s general director, Massimo Osanna, called it “an exceptional find” that contributes to a better “picture of the history and civilisation of the age”.

Earlier this month, archeologists were searching the remains of a large roman villa and found the carbonised remains of a horse which also died during the eruption of Vesuvius - in another unusual discovery.

Most of the inhabitants of Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum were not killed by lava.

Instead it was a huge cloud of hot gas and fragments called a pyroclastic flow which engulfed the city burying them in ash and preserving their final moments.

Archaeologists believe it was this lethal cloud which struck their newest discovery, throwing him backwards as he turned to look at it.

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