Archaeologists Uncover Remains Of Rich Man And His Slave Killed By Vesuvius

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 22 Nov 2020 15:07
Archaeologists Uncover Remains Of Rich Man And His Slave Killed By VesuviusPA Images

Archaeologists have discovered remains of two men in Pompeii thought to be from the Vesuvius eruption 2,000 years ago. 

The bodies are believed to be a rich man and his slave who were killed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed the ancient city in AD 79.


One of the men was aged between 30 and 40, while the other was around 18 to 23. They were found under a layer of ash around 2 metres deep into the ground.

Director of the Pompeii archaeological park Massimo Osanna has said he thinks the two men were ‘seeking refuge’ at the time of their deaths before being swept away.

PA Images

The discovery was confirmed yesterday, November 21, and was found in what is said to have once been an elegant villa with views of the Mediterranean sea, Euronews reports.


As to how officials new it was the remains of a wealthy man and its slave, according to BBC News, it was the slave’s crushed vertebrae which indicated a lot of manual labour, suggesting he was a slave.

In regards to the wealthier man, traces of a woollen cloak were found beneath his neck and appeared to have a mantle on his shoulder, demonstrating his wealth. While remains of white paint, thought to be from a collapsed upper wall, were found by his head. The younger man is thought to be wearing a short, pleated tunic.

PA Images

When looking at their causes of death, Osanna said, ‘It is a death by thermal shock, as also demonstrated by their clenched feet and hands’.


The two men were found in a side room off an underground corridor, known as a cryptoporticus. Osanna said the victims were ‘probably looking for shelter in the cryptoporticus, in this underground space, where they thought they were better protected’.

Osanna also described the recent discovery as ‘an incredible and extraordinary testimony’ of when the eruption happened 2,000 years ago.

PA Images

To identify the corpses better, archaeologists poured liquid chalk into the cavities of the bones as it helps give the image and shape of the bodies and the positions of them at the time of death. Casts were also made using the impressions the bodies had made in the hardened ash.


Vesuvius erupted towards the end of October, 79 AD. As Osanna puts it, a ‘blazing cloud (of volcanic material) arrived in Pompeii and… killed anyone it encountered on its way’. The volcano last erupted in 1944.

Excavations at the site continue, while tourists are currently not allowed to visit due to the ongoing pandemic.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Life, Archaeology, Discovery, Italy


BBC News and 1 other
  1. BBC News

    Pompeii: Dig uncovers remains of rich man and slave killed by Vesuvius

  2. Euronews

    Bodies of 'rich man' and his 'male slave' unearthed