In the eighteenth century, excavations inadvertently revealed the frightful Pompeii bodies. Construction of a palace for the Bourbon king was underway when the shocking and now famous bodies, frozen in time, were unearthed.
The bodies were created after the city of Pompeii was buried in ash and rocks after a nearby volcanic mountain, Vesuvius, erupted.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted, it threw rocks and ash 20 km into the sky and burned many residents of Pompeii to a crisp. The horrifying death came to those who could not get away in time, although chances of escaping the fiery hell were still very slim for those closest to the blast.
Mount Vesuvius, The Source Of The Disaster
Mount Vesuvius is located in Naples, Italy, and it buried Pompeii and the surrounding areas for nearly 1,500 years. The bodies were buried around 30 feet below the surface.
The ashes and dangerous gases swept over the city at speeds of more than 100 miles an hour, killing everything on their path.
Strangely, Romans honored their god of fire, Vulcan, on 23 August every year by celebrating the Vulcanalia. Since the eruption occurred on August 24, the residents of Pompeii had honored Vulcanalia a day earlier.
Vulcan was a smith god believed to labor ceaselessly inside the mountain.
On a fateful day, ash pouring out from Vesuvius fell over the city of Pompeii and the nearby town of Herculaneum until it covered the buildings and everything in sight.
Most people tried to get away, but many perished before they could make their escape.
That has made the city every archaeologist's dream by offering many artifacts that provide lots of information about the period and the people who lived in Pompeii at the time.
In a cruel irony, the volcanic ash that killed these people also preserved their bodies for hundreds of years, capturing their devastating final moments here on earth. Here are some photos of Pompeii bodies.
1. Remains Of A Family That Perished After The Eruption Of Vesuvius
2. Pompeii Bodies Of Mother And Daughter, They Died Beside Each Other
3. A Boy Who Died During The Eruption In Pompeii
4. A Cast Of A Woman Who Perished In Pompeii
5. Pompeii Bodies Included A Horse In A Villa Outside Pompeii
This horse was saddled and ready to flee the hell that was Pompeii at the time. Archaeologists found a saddle, a harness, and ornamental pieces with the horse, which are all indications that someone intended to use it to flee.
Based on the size of the horse and the quality of its harnesses, experts think it was of a "noble breed."
6. Pompeii Bodies Of A High-Status Man And An Enslaved Individual
Apparently, the two men survived the immediate impact but perished a day later in the second blast. The clothes helped experts determine that the older man, probably in his 30s or 40s, was of a higher status.
The younger man, estimated to be about 18 to 25, had many compressed vertebrae, indicating that he was a manual laborer.
7. "The Garden Of Fugitives"
The people look like they died while trying to find their way through the Nocera Gate, and they were found buried under a layer of pumice more than 3.5 meters high. These Pompeii bodies are believed to consist of a mother, a servant, a farming family, and a merchant.
8. Archaeologists Digging Pompeii Bodies, 1961: Two Adults And Three Kids
9. One Of Many Pompeii Bodies
10. The Two Maidens, Which Are Among The Most Famous Pompeii Bodies
These two bodies, initially thought to be women, were locked in an eternal embrace. DNA later confirmed they were both men.
One man's head rests on the other man's chest. They were also not related to each other, leading to speculations that they were in a romantic relationship.
11. This Vesuvius Man Tried To Shield His Face From The Ash And Gases
The man was desperate, and he resorted to covering his face with his hands to keep himself safe from the ashes and gas.
12. Another Well-Preserved Pompeian
Like many others, this Pompeian was found buried under ash and rubble. Due to the lack of air and moisture, whatever was buried underneath did not deteriorate too much.
13. Vesuvius Victims Frozen In Time
14. This Dog Was Preserved During It's Death Throws In Pompeii
How Giuseppe Fiorelli's Efforts Helped Preserve The Pompeii Bodies
The discovery of Pompeii bodies began by accident in the eighteenth century in 1777. In the year 1864, Giuseppe Fiorelli had the idea to reconstruct the bodies.
Fiorelli and his colleagues poured plaster into the voids left by the people before chipping away at the outer layers of the ash.
The cavities were not actually empty but were filled with the bones of the dead.
In the end, they revealed how the victims looked at the time they died. One of the heartbreaking scenes shows a mother trying to protect her child.
Many bodies were discovered, especially along a street known as "the Alley of Skeletons."
In a way, the pain these people went through has transcended centuries, and the bodies are currently on display for all to see. The deaths the people of Pompeii went through at the time were incredibly agonizing.
Today, these people have been dead for eighteen centuries, and the bodies should not be looked at as art but rather as remains that demonstrate the painful deaths the people of Pompeii went through.
In total, more than 100 bodies have been preserved through this method. The bodies might look like statues, but the story behind each of the bodies is quite moving.
Another thing the bodies revealed was that syphilis still existed at the time. For instance, some bodies of young children were unearthed, and they had signs of congenital syphilis.
Previously, it was believed that Columbus and his sailors brought the disease to Europe after they visited America. However, this finding proved that the disease existed in Europe over 1,000 years before then.
Considering that most people were found to have died in relatively casual positions, it is believed that the heat, and not suffocation from the volcanic ash, caused their deaths. Scientists believe that the residents might have been dealing with temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees.
In total, the eruption is believed to have resulted in 20,000 deaths. More than 1,000 bodies were discovered during the excavations, although only a small percentage of them could be preserved.
Mount Vesuvius And Pompeii Today
The last time Mount Vesuvius erupted was in 1944, but experts advise that the volcano is still one of the most dangerous in the world today. Therefore, the threat of another destructive eruption is still very possible today.
Unfortunately, about 3 million people are living within 20 miles of the volcano's crater today. Still, many people from around the globe visit the site of the Pompeii bodies today, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.