Archaeologists in southern Italy have come across the skeleton of an ancient man who died in the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
"A find from which we expect a lot," Francesco Sirano, director of the Ercolano archaeological park south of Naples, told the ANSA news agency.
It will provide information about the last moments of the buried city of Herculaneum, which in ancient times was located where Ercolano is today. During the eruptions of Vesuvius at that time, the famous city of Pompeii was also buried.
The man was found with his head facing the sea, Sirano explained in a video published by ANSA. He is believed to have been between 40 and 45 years old.
The researchers assume that he was knocked over by the glowing hot ash cloud while he was probably trying to escape. Because he fell backwards, he may have seen the last scenes of the ash cloud rushing towards him.
The experts found the skeleton at a site where the last excavation was carried out about 25 years ago. At that time, the remains of more than 300 people had been found where the sandy beach used to be in ancient times.
They are said to have sought shelter there in small camps and waited for the fleet of the Roman officer Pliny the Elder to bring them to safety.
Meanwhile, researchers are puzzling over who the man could have been. Conjectures abound. Sirano explained, according to ANSA, that he could have been an aide to Pliny's fleet or belonged to the group of fugitives and moved away from it to reach one of the lifeboats at sea.
The archaeologists now want to move a large lava rock with the skeleton in it to a laboratory for further excavation work.
Australian Associated Press