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Pompeii skeletons reveal deaths by earthquakes, not just ancient eruption



The discovery of two skeletons buried beneath a collapsed wall in the Pompeii archaeological site point to deaths by powerful earthquakes that accompanied the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the first century, experts said, in addition to the victims of volcanic ash and gas.

The two skeletons, believed to be men at least 55 years old, were found in the Casti Amanti, or House of Chaste Lovers, beneath a wall that collapsed before the area was covered in volcanic material.

The area was likely undergoing reconstruction work at the time of the eruption in AD 79, following an earthquake a few days earlier.

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"In recent years, we have realised there were violent, powerful seismic events that were happening at the time of the eruption,″ said Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park, on Tuesday.

New archaeological techniques and methodology "allow us to understand better the inferno that in two days completely destroyed the city of Pompeii, killing many inhabitants,″ he added, making it possible to determine the dynamic of deaths down to the final seconds.

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On August 24 in 79AD, Mount Vesuvius, south of Naples, violently spewed deadly, super-heated volcanic rock that produced 100,000 times the energy of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki atomic bombings in World War II.

The deadly, hazardous material fell from the skies and coated both cities so heavily and so rapidly that the inhabitants were left with little time to flee.

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The areas around Pompeii and Herculaneum have since become a major tourist attraction in Italy and are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The total population of both cities was over 20,000 at the time of the eruption and the remains of more than 1500 people have so far been found, but the total death toll remains unknown.

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