Victim of eruption of Vesuvius in unusual pose | Photo: Pompeii - Archaeological Park
The photo showing the preserved remains of an inhabitant of Pompeii gained considerable popularity on the Internet, who in 79 CE died as a result of hot pyroclastic flow (gas and ash cloud) that killed most of the population living in the area around Mount Vesuvius. The unusual position in which the body found itself is indecently associated with many people.
It is easy to establish that the deceased was an adult whose legs and arms were frozen in an unnatural position. As explained by the volcanologist Pier Paolo Petrone, the strange position of the hands results from the effect of enormous temperature on the body, and the arms and legs changed their position even after death. What’s more, in Pompeii you can find many very differently preserved bodies of victims of the blast.
We have virtually no information about the person in the photo. The visible body is a solidified plaster that was poured during excavations through a small hole, into the space left by the decomposed body. The so-called Fiorelli’s method recreates the shape of the deceased’s body, as well as the items that the person was wearing. Thanks to Fiorelli, to this day we can understand the terror of the inhabitants and see the casts of the bodies of Pompeii inhabitants twisted in deathly convulsions.