In the 18th century, during the early days of semi-professional excavations at Pompeii under the Bourbon king of Naples, the engineers directing the excavations had limited understanding of the overall dynamics of the eruption and were unable to examine the human remains they encountered for direct examination. causes of death. They attributed all deaths to what they called ash rain, i.e., pyroclastic flows.
Only in recent decades has technology given archaeologists the ability to discern the various ways in which the eruption of Vesuvius claimed lives. Pyroclastic flows were only the last stage. Prior to this, a fall of pumice that had been hitting the city for 18 hours, adding weight to the rooftops at a rate of 220 pounds per hour, caused buildings to collapse on people who had sought shelter there.
Most recent find two skeletons under a collapsed wall in the House of the Chaste Lovers were victims of another consequence of the AD 79 eruption: an earthquake that occurred shortly before the last phase of the pumice fall and before the pyroclastic flows that buried the city. The skeletons were found during construction work at the House of Chaste Lovers. They were adult men (not younger than 55 years old) who had taken refuge in a utility room that was not actively used during the eruption, as the building was undergoing renovations.
In the room where the bodies lay, several objects were found, such as a vertical amphora leaning against the wall in the corner next to one of the bodies, and a collection of vessels, bowls and jugs stacked against the end wall. The most striking aspect is evidence of damage to two walls, probably caused by the earthquakes that accompanied the eruption. Part of the south wall of the room has collapsed, crushing one of the men, whose raised hand is a tragic image of his futile attempt to protect himself from the falling masonry. The condition of the western wall demonstrates the enormous force of earthquakes that occurred simultaneously with the eruption: the entire upper part came off and fell into the room, crushing and burying another individual.
In the adjacent room, there is a stone kitchen table that was temporarily out of use in 79 AD: a pile of powdered lime was found on the surface of the table, waiting to be used for building purposes, suggesting that renovations were taking place nearby. moment of eruption. Near the wall of the kitchen, a series of Cretan amphorae, originally used to transport wine, was found. Above the kitchen counter there were traces of a domestic sanctuary in the form of a fresco, which apparently depicts household gods (lars) and a pot partially built into the wall, which may have been used as a vessel for religious offerings. Next to the kitchen is a long, narrow room with a lavatory, the contents of which flowed into a sewer under the street.
The remains of the skeleton were taken out by archaeologists for analysis in the local laboratory of Pompeii.