The remains of three people who perished in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE have recently been unearthed during a recent dig in Pompeii. The skeletal remains are believed to have belonged to two women and a child aged around three or four who died while seeking shelter from the devastating eruption in a bakery.
The recent discovery was announced by the Pompeii Archaeological Park on Monday. Along with the human remains, they also revealed that their ongoing excavations have uncovered a structure with two beautiful fresco walls: one depicting the sea god Poseidon and Amymone and another of Apollo and Daphne.
Archaeologists on the project think the structure was likely a bakery with an oven, next door to a laundry used for washing and dying clothes.
The finds were made in a commercial part of the town in an area called Regio IX. Excavations in this particular patch of Pompeii started in 1888, but were then put on ice for over a century.
It started one morning following a number of small tremors that went largely unnoticed by the locals. By lunchtime, a giant column of volcanic rock and hot gases had been ejected high into the stratosphere, in a stage known as the Plinian phase. The debris eventually fell to the ground below, raining down on the buildings for hours as earthquakes continued to shake the city.
White pumice found among the newly discovered skeletons suggests they were killed during these first stages of the eruption.
After this phase, a tidal wave of rocky deposits flew down the side of the volcano, flooding the city with hot gas and volcanic matter. It’s estimated that at least 15 to 20 percent of the city’s population died during this brutal stage, killing them through asphyxiation by a stream of scorching ash and gas.
After around two days of violent volcanic activity, rock, and ashy debris had totally engulfed the city and its inhabitants, leaving them covered in a huge mound of debris that lay undisturbed for over 1,000 years.
Here it lay until the 16th century CE when ruins of the long-lost settlement started to be realized. Centuries later, archaeologists are still busy working at the site, making a near-constant stream of truly stunning discoveries.