News & Opinion | May 30, 2018 10:50 am

Researchers Discover Pompeii Eruption Victim With the Worst Luck

Scientists find remains of a man who survived the blast, but was then crushed by a falling stone.

A skeleton of a victim recently found in the new work area of Regio V in the archaeological site of Pompeii, the ancient Roman town buried by the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano on 79 AD. (Soprintendenza Archeologica Pomp/KONTROLAB /LightRocket via Getty Images)
LightRocket via Getty Images

Archaeologists have discovered an incredibly rare find: the remains of a man in Pompeii who appears to have survived the first blast of Mount Vesuvius…but who was then crushed by a stone block before he could escape from the city. Officials in Italy say that the stone block, which might have been a door jam, was probably launched by the volcanic cloud and struck the man’s upper body and crushed his thorax and head.

“Beyond the emotional impact of these discoveries, the ability to compare them in terms of their pathologies and lifestyles as well as the dynamics of their escape from the eruption, but above all to investigate them with ever more specific instruments and professionalism present in the field, contribute toward an increasingly accurate picture of the history and civilisation of the age,” said Massimo Osanna, the general director of the archaeological site, said to the Washington Post. 

There is still a possibility that the man was killed by the blast of hot ash lava and gas from the volcano before he was struck by the rock 2,000 years ago. He is believed to be at least 30 years old. About 2,000 people died in Pompeii out of population of 20,000. Many fled when the volcano started spewing ash and smoke days before it erupted.