Press Office of the Superintendence for Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stab
Press Office of the Superintendence for Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stab

Stunningly Detailed 3D Scans of Pompeii Victims

Press Office of the Superintendence for Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stab
Press Office of the Superintendence for Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stab

In Italy, a group of experts appointed by the Archaeological Superintendence of Pompeii are slowly bringing the ancient tragedy of Pompeii's volcanic eruption to life, one CAT scan at a time.

Archaeologists are working side by side with computer engineers, radiologists, and orthodontists, using cutting-edge imaging technology to scan the plaster-cast remains of 86 individuals who perished when the Italian city was decimated by a volcanic eruption in 79 CE. The scans, which provide a strikingly detailed look at the remains' teeth, bones, and facial features, are teaching the researchers more about Pompeii's residents—their gender, how old they were, what they ate, and whether they were in good health.

So far, researchers have scanned about 30 individuals. They recently shared their findings, revealing humanizing 3D pictures of the bodies beneath their plaster casts. The images include the remains of a presumed family: a 4-year-old boy, who was found resting near an adult man and a woman with an infant.

Thanks to their teeth and bones, experts now know a little more about the victims’ lives—for instance, that they adhered to a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and had strong, healthy teeth thanks to fluorine in their local water source. A more sobering find: Many of them suffered severe head injuries, presumably from falling rubble during the eruption.

Although an estimated 2000 people died in Pompeii, only 1150 individuals have been discovered since the mid 19th century, when archaeologists began finding bodies buried beneath layers of hardened pumice. Their flesh had decomposed, leaving behind entire skeletons encased in the ashy residue. Researchers preserved the bodies' outlines by pouring plaster into the cavities, allowing the liquid to harden into a cast. So far, about 100 of these remains have been conserved, including skeletons from animals like a dog and a wild boar.

Twenty of the recently scanned casts are now on display at Pompeii. View photos of the research below. 

All images courtesy of the Press Office of the Superintendence for Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabia

[h/t Daily Mail, The Local]

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Blue Water Ventures International
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Gold Artifacts Discovered in 19th-Century Shipwreck That Was the ‘Titanic of Its Time’
Blue Water Ventures International
Blue Water Ventures International

On June 14, 1838, the steamship Pulaski was sailing off the coast of North Carolina, headed for Baltimore, when one of its boilers exploded, killing numerous passengers and causing colossal damage to the ship. It sank in less than an hour, taking two-thirds of its passengers with it. In January 2018, divers finally found the wreckage, and their latest expedition has brought back numerous new treasures, according to The Charlotte Observer, including a gold pocket watch that stopped just a few minutes after the boiler reportedly blew up.

The Pulaski disaster, which the Observer refers to as “the Titanic of its time,” was notable not just for its high death toll, but for whom it was carrying when it went down. The luxury steamship’s wealthy passengers included former New York Congressman William Rochester and prominent Savannah banker and businessman Gazaway Bugg Lamar, then one of the richest men in the region. At the time, the North Carolina Standard called the sinking “the most painful catastrophe that has ever occurred upon the American coast.”

An engraving showing the 'Pulaski' exploding
An 1848 illustration of the Pulaski explosion
Charles Ellms, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Divers from Blue Water Ventures International and Endurance Exploration Group (which owns the rights to the site) have located a number of artifacts that support the belief that the wreck they found is, in fact, what’s left of the Pulaski.

While they have yet to find the engraved ship’s bell (the main object used to authenticate a wreck), divers identified a few artifacts engraved with the name Pulaski, as well as numerous coins that were all produced prior to 1838. The 150 gold and silver coins discovered thus far are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars today. They’ve also discovered silverware, keys, thimbles, and the ship's anchor.

A close-up of the gold pocket watch
Blue Water Ventures International

And in their most recent expedition, the divers found a unique gold watch that further supports the claim that this ship is the Pulaski. The hands of the engraved solid gold pocket watch on a gold chain—a piece only the wealthiest of men could afford—are stopped at 11:05, just five minutes after the boiler reportedly exploded.

The excavation of the remains of the ship will hopefully illuminate more of its story. Already, it has changed what we know about the ship’s final night: The wreck was discovered 40 miles off the North Carolina coast, a bit farther than the 30 miles estimated in initial newspaper reports of the disaster.

The investigators hope to eventually find evidence that will allow them to pinpoint why the deadly explosion occurred. While such explosions weren’t rare for steamships at the time, the crew may have pushed the ship beyond its limits in an attempt to reach its destination faster, causing the boiler to burst. Expeditions to the wreckage are ongoing.

[h/t The Charlotte Observer]

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Evening Standard, Getty Images
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
$2.5 Million in World War II-Era Cash Discovered Beneath Winston Churchill's Former Tailor's Shop
Evening Standard, Getty Images
Evening Standard, Getty Images

A valuable secret has been hiding beneath the floorboards of a sporting goods store in the UK since World War II. As the BBC reports, about £30,000 in roughly 80-year-old British bank notes was unearthed by a renovation project at the Cotswold Outdoor store in Brighton. Adjusting for inflation, their value would be equal to roughly $2.5 million today.

Owner Russ Davis came across the hidden treasure while tearing out decades-worth of carpet and tiles beneath the property. What he initially assumed was a block of wood turned out to be a wad of cash caked in dirt. Each bundle held about £1000 worth of £1 and £5 notes, with about 30 bundles in total.

The bills are badly damaged, but one surviving design element holds an important clue to their history. Each note is printed in blue, the color of the emergency wartime currency first issued by the Bank of England in 1940.

At the time the money was buried, the property was home to the famous British furrier and couturier Bradley Gowns. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wife, Lady Clementine Churchill, were reportedly regular customers.

The reason the fortune was stowed beneath the building in the first place remains a mystery. Davis imagines that it might have come from a bank robbery, while Howard Bradley, heir to the Bradley Gowns family business, suspects it might have been stashed there as a getaway fund in anticipation of a Nazi invasion, as he told the New York Post.

The hoard will remain in the possession of the Sussex police as more details on the story emerge.

[h/t BBC]

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