1. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says


    Yeah, my first thought was to look at the pelvis -then I noticed the orientation of the feet. Both told me that this person was facing the rock as it hit. …but I hadn’t actually thought about the position of the arms/hands. That was one scary day, for sure.

  2. davidnangle says

    Of course, it looks like a cut stone, if a bit beat up, so probably fell from a building rather than flying miles through the air to land on him. Which would have been way more awesome.

  3. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says


    I had noticed this was dressed stone.

    Quite obviously this is a case where a volcanic stone of a few dozen tons flew several miles to smash into a large public work or building, showering large chunks of worked marble a hundred meters or more directly into this victim’s face.

    Of course, I here employ Spielberg’s razor: when recreating life details from skeletal or fossil remains, the interpretation that makes the biggest bucks on opening weekend is usually correct.

  4. blf says

    I admit when I first saw the image my “bullshite” detector gave off the very faintest of pings — because, in my mind’s eye, I associate the remains of the victims with plaster casts of the hollows in the ash where they died. Not with skeletons. My bullshite detector needs some more training, this is a real & recent find, Archaeologists uncover remains of Pompeii victim ‘decapitated while trying to flee’:

    The victim appears to have died after being hit and decapitated by a 300-kilogram rock, sent hurtling towards him by the force of the volcanic flows. The remains of his skull have not yet been found.

    The first analyses of his remains show he was aged over 30, with signs of a bone infection in the leg. He probably had difficulties walking, according to the site’s superintendent Massimo Osanna, and therefore wasn’t able to flee the 79 AD eruption quickly enough.

    Osanna, said the skeleton was an “exceptional find”, and was similar to that of another disabled victim found previously.


    The body was found close to the recently discovered Alley of Balconies […]


    Last week a house with spectacular colourful frescoes was uncovered, and in mid-May, archaeologists were able to cast the complete figure of a horse for the first time ever at the site. Along with a pig and a dog, it is one of the few animals of any species to be successfully cast at Pompeii.

    And a month before that, an excavation uncovered the complete skeleton of a young child in a bathhouse long thought to have been fully excavated. That find was the first time a complete skeleton has been discovered at Pompeii in some 20 years, and the first time a child’s remains have come to light in around half a century.

  5. DonDueed says

    I’d say he died from loss of soft tissue. Any other conclusion is just interpolation. (Were you there?)

  6. cartomancer says

    veni, vidi, a saxo ingenti compressus sum.

    This is what happens when you anger the GM. Roman religion was very specific on this point.

  7. Oggie. says

    “I’m not going to lie to you, officer Obie. I put that skeleton under that half-a-ton of rock.”

  8. Oggie. says

    Shit. I really need to see if the comments have updated before I add my 1.2 cents worth of almost thought. Sorry, Area Man.

  9. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin claims this is an early specimen of now-common H. bimulitremula (or “Republican”).

  10. grasshopper says

    The guy was a devout christian, and he was singing a hymn.

    Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in Thee.

    And the rest of his life, and the song, remains unsung.

  11. Ed Seedhouse says

    “I’m not going to lie to you, officer Obie. I put that skeleton under that half-a-ton of rock.”

    I’m old and I remember the line differently, so properly I think that should read more like “Yes sir officer Obie, cannot tell a lie Sir. — I put that skeleton under that rock”.

  12. jrkrideau says

    @ 29 Don Dueed

    (Were you there?)
    Well, yes but only passing. That rock nearly got me.

  13. gijoel says

    Well it looks like this person,
    Wasn’t killed by a stone cold killer.


  14. nomdeplume says

    The story is made sad (sadder) by the fact that he had a leg infection (visible at top of left tibia perhaps) which meant that he couldn’t move quickly and may well have seen the stone coming but been unable to move away.

  15. bcwebb says

    If that’s a dressed stone from a building, where’s the rest of the building and why only damage to the head? It would be nice to know what else was excavated from around it. Is he lying on a street or earth?
    I assume they can exclude ash burial because there was nothing between the rock and skeleton but how do they know the man wasn’t killed by gases? Or is this just another university press release by an nonscientist?

  16. blf says

    bcwebb@23, The press release from Parco Archeologico di Pompei, The first victim of new excavation, which is what all(? most?) of the news reports are based on:

    The skeleton was discovered at the crossroads of Vicolo delle Nozze d’Argento and the recently unearthed Vicolo dei Balconi, which extends towards Via di Nola. Initial observations would appear to indicate that the individual survived the first eruptive phase of the volcano, and subsequently sought salvation along the alley now covered in a thick layer of lapilli. The body was found at the height of the first floor of the adjacent building, and thus above the lapilli layer. Here he was struck by the dense pyroclastic flow which threw him back.

    A formidable stone block (perhaps a door jamb), violently thrown by the volcanic cloud, collided with his upper body, crushing the highest part of the thorax and yet-to-be-identified head, which lie at a lower height of the lower limbs, and probably under the stone block.

  17. blf says

    That’s not what I meant when I asked if he wanted to get stoned.

    Perhaps he said “Jehovah” ?

  18. joehoffman says

    Exactly my thought, Davidc1. They should test the bone marrow for coyote DNA.

  19. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Wile E. Coyote would’ve walked away from that.

  20. emergence says

    blf @26

    They’re talking as if this guy has enough of a skull left to identify.

  21. emergence says

    And yeah, my first thought seeing this was that it looked like something out of a cartoon.

  22. microraptor says

    Like something from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Can anyone account for the whereabouts of Christopher Lloyd at the time of the incident?

  23. cartomancer says

    To be fair falling masonry in Pompeii is responsible for the United Kingdom’s most common Classics-related psychological trauma of the last 50 years.

    To wit, the ending of Book 1 of the Cambridge Latin Course (the most popular Latin course in UK schools) has the main character – whose family and world we have got to know throughout the book – crushed by the fallen wall of his study during the eruption of Vesuvius. Caecilius, for it is he, makes a plaintive appeal to his ex-slave, Clemens, to see if his wife and son have escaped, and then dies. The dog, Cerberus, wails mournfully as he tries in vain to wake his master.

    Generations of Latin students have been traumatized by this little piece of storytelling. There is even a facebook-based support group. Often the only memory young adults have of their time learning Latin is the fact that Caecilius dies in the end, and the dog cannot wake him.

    The second most common Classics-based psychological trauma is watching Tory politicians trying to torysplain Roman history to Mary Beard on Question Time.

  24. blf says

    The second most common Classics-based psychological trauma is watching Tory politicians trying to torysplain Roman history to Mary Beard on Question Time.

    I’ve just returned from a wonderful lunch (it’s now c.17h30) and drinks, and am laughing so hard it may soon turn into a Roman feast, albeit without the vomitorium† and the orgy.‡ At least of one of those sounds intriguing, if possibly messy.

      † I am aware the classical ancient Romans didn’t have vomitoriums — at least in the sense of making room for more food — that misconception is, as I recall, due to the Victorians (I may be mistaken as to the origin of the legend).

      ‡ Also no slaves. It if does become a vomitorium / orgy, the clean-up is presumably my problem. Which, considering my procrastination towards such tasks, means a new lifeform will evolve, presumably favouring classical experts for lunch…

  25. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    They’ll stone you when you’re shopping in the forum
    They’ll stone you when you’re trying to get a quorum
    They’ll stone you when you’re conquering Gaul
    They’ll stone you when you’re playing bocce ball
    But I would not feel so all alone
    Everybody must get stoned

    (Apologies for the anachronisms.)

  26. Colin J says

    blf @36:

    I am aware the classical ancient Romans didn’t have vomitoriums

    My impression was that vomitorium was the name for the broad exit from a large public building like a stadium; that it was the building itself that “vomited” the crowds back onto the streets.

  27. blf says

    My impression was that vomitorium was the name for the broad exit from a large public building like a stadium

    That is also my understanding, which is why I added the (perhaps cryptic) caveat “in the sense of making room for more food…”. The misconception I referred to is a Victorian(?) idea it referred to deliberately vomiting up food at a feast so as to be able to eat more.