Revealing The Lost Souls Of Pompeii: Unprecedented CT Scans Illuminate The Tragedy Of An Ancient City.
After being buried in ash for more than 1,900 years, victims of the devastating Pompeii eruption are being brought back to life thanks to modern imaging technology.
Archaeologists spent last year carefully restoring and scanning the preserved bodies of 86 Romans who died when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79.
Now, restorers have published the first results of these scans to show what lies beneath the plaster and the guts of these people frozen in time.
Archaeologists spent last year carefully restoring and scanning the preserved bodies of 86 Romans who died when Mount Vesuvius erupted near Pompeii in AD 79. They have now published the first results of these scans to show what lies beneath the plaster. and people’s carcasses frozen in time (scans of a victim believed to have been four when he died are shown).
Perhaps the most surprising discovery was the excellent condition of the Roman’s teeth. Researchers say this suggests they must have had a low-sugar, high-fiber diet and may even have eaten better than us.
Among the victims to be scanned was a child, believed to be about four years old, who was found frozen in terror.
He was discovered along with an adult man and woman, presumably his parents, as well as a younger child who appeared to be asleep on his mother’s lap.
The boy’s clothing is visible in the cast, but now scans have revealed his small skeleton beneath these clothes.
One scan in particular resembles 3D scans taken by doctors during pregnancy and shows the child’s lips pursed, as if in shock.
The project has also revealed the spine, ribs and pelvis of another victim, believed to be an adult man.
Other scans attempt to bring another victim’s skull to life using a specific contrast dye that mimics the appearance of muscles and skin.
These more gruesome scans help accentuate the victim’s teeth, but the empty eye sockets and collapsed nose give them a macabre feel.
Experts at the Pompeii Archaeological Site have been preparing the poignant remains for the exhibition titled Pompeii and Europe. Stefano Vanacore, director of the laboratory at the Pompeii archaeological site, can be seen carrying the remains of the petrified child (left). The lasers used as part of the scanning process are shown above the child’s head in the image to the right.
Scans have also revealed that many of Pompeii’s victims suffered serious head injuries, perhaps caused by falling debris when their homes collapsed in the earthquakes that accompanied the eruption.
Experts at the Pompeii Archaeological Site have been preparing the poignant remains for the exhibition titled Pompeii and Europe.
Over the years, many of the victims have been put in casts to help preserve them and their positions.
Restoration involves carefully breaking these molds to reveal the bodies entombed in ashes. Scans are used on bodies that are too delicate to open or to capture the details within the ash.
Computed axial tomography (CAT) machines, also known as CT scanners, are used because they produce detailed 3D models of the remains.
In particular, tomography is the process of creating a 2D image or “slice” of a 3D object.
Doctors use them to examine the body, one portion at a time, to identify specific areas, and the same method is used when studying remains.
It is becoming a common method for examining archaeological remains and has previously been used to study Egyptian mummies, for example.
Stefania Giudice, curator at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples who works with Pompeii victims: “Handling these remains can be very moving.”
“Even though it happened 2,000 years ago, it could be a child, a mother or a family. “It is human archaeology, not just archaeology.”
People’s poses reveal how they died, some trapped in buildings and others sheltered with relatives.
In a disturbing image, Stefano Vanacore, director of the laboratory, can be seen carrying the remains of the small child who was trapped in the ashes when the volcano erupted on August 24.
Another plaster cast of an adult reveals that he raised his hands above his head in a protective gesture, apparently in an attempt to avoid death.
Pompeii was a large Roman city in the Campania region of Italy.
Mount Vesuvius unleashed its power, spewing ash hundreds of meters into the air for 18 hours, which fell on the doomed city, suffocating residents and covering buildings.
But the deadly disaster occurred the next morning, when the volcano’s cone collapsed, triggering an avalanche of mud that traveled at 100 miles per hour and flooded Pompeii, destroying everything in its path and covering the city so that all but the buildings higher, they were buried. .
People were also buried in the ashes, which hardened into a porous shell, meaning the soft tissues of the bodies decomposed, leaving the skeleton in the void.
Reports claim that two thousand people died and the site was abandoned until it was rediscovered in 1748. Many of the buildings, artifacts and skeletons were found intact under a layer of rubble.
It is now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and more than 2.5 million tourists visit it each year.
In November, French and Italian archaeologists excavating areas of the ancient city found raw clay vessels that appear to have been thrown by Roman potters fleeing the disaster.
The perfectly preserved settlement was discovered by chance in the 18th century, buried under 10 meters of ash.
Excavators were surprised to find human remains inside the ash voids and soon discovered how to create casts of people to capture a moment frozen in time.
Archaeologists poured plaster inside to capture the positions people were in when they died, trapping their skeletons inside the plaster before removing the plaster from the hole a couple of days later.
The technique means it is possible to see the expressions of anguish and pain of men, women and children who died, as well as details such as hairstyles and clothing.
Creating casts is an exact science, because the plaster must be thin enough to show details of the person but thick enough to support the remains.
Approximately 1,150 bodies have been discovered so far, although a third of the city remains to be excavated.
Most of the plaster models were made in the mid-19th century, so some have degenerated and need repair, allowing experts to glimpse inside.
In total, only about 100 of the recesses were captured in plaster, to reveal people’s poses as well as writhing dogs, for example. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 25,000 residents of Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum died instantly.
Science to preserve the victims buried in ashes by Mount Vesuvius
Pompeii was a large Roman city in the Italian region of Campania (marked). Mount Vesυviυs unleashed its power, spewing ash hundreds of feet into the air for 18 hours, which fell on the doomed city, suffocating residents and covering buildings. The deadly disaster occurred the next morning, when the volcano’s cap collapsed, causing an avalanche of mud that flooded Pompeii.
The Roman writer, Pliпy the Younger, described the ocean during the eruption of Mount Vesυviυs. The terrified (enlightened) Romans living in the cities of Pompeii and Herculape saw “blades of fire and leaping flames” as they walked through dark streets carrying torches with pumice stones falling on them, he said.
Archaeologists have sought new ways to preserve Pompeii victims without plaster casts.
In 1984, a skeleton was cast from resin to create a durable mold that would perfectly capture the victim’s hair and hairpin.
But resin casting is difficult and expensive, so it has only been used once.
Plaster is still a good option for making molds, even though the technique was pioneered more than a century ago.
It has to be mixed to a precise consistency: thick enough to support the skeleton, but fine enough to capture as much detail as possible.
The mixture must be carefully poured into the ash void through a narrow entrance to capture a person’s pose.
Dr Giudice said: “The bones are very fragile, so when we put the plaster on we have to be very careful, otherwise we could damage the remains and we would lose them forever.”