A re-evaluation of manner of death following the Vesuvius eruption at the Roman town of Herculaneum

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Abstract

Herculaneum is one of the most famous Roman settlements in the world. One of the details which remains unclear is the specific manner in which the victims died during the eruption. We address this issue here through the investigation of changes in bone apatite structure and collagen preservation using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) combined with collagen extraction (Craig et al., 2009). We suggest that the prolonged presence of soft tissue at the time of impact, as well as the stone chambers in which the inhabitants of Herculaneum had sought shelter, acted as a thermal buffer and thus minimised the heat-induced degradation of organic and inorganic skeletal tissues.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAntiquity
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Aug 2019

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