Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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More Vesuvius Victims Volume 56 Number 2, March/April 2003
by Jason Urbanus

[image]A chain wrapped around the leg of this skeleton suggests the victim was a slave. (Courtesy Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei) [LARGER IMAGE]

Recent excavations outside Pompeii's city gates have revealed more grim evidence of Mount Vesuvius' most famous eruption. Skeletons of two adults were found buried beneath layers of ash just north of the city wall. One victim may have been a slave, as evidenced by a chain still wrapped around one leg. Roman slaves sometimes had their legs chained as a form of punishment or to impede flight. The sex and age of the skeletons is still being determined. Experts have concluded that the victims were most likely attempting to flee the devastation of the A.D. 79 eruption along the northern road leading out of the city when they were overwhelmed by ash and toxic gases. In the three and a half centuries since organized excavation began in Pompeii, only about 2,000 bodies have been uncovered.

© 2003 by the Archaeological Institute of America