In AD 79 the town of Herculaneum was suddenly hit and overwhelmed by successive volcanic ash-avalanches, fast moving
clouds of hot volcanic ash and gases, capable of killing all residents who were not yet evacuated. The scientific studies on the
Herculaneum victims are now standing from the first discovery in the early 1980s of hundreds of skeletons of people crowding the
beach and a series of waterfront chambers, fixated into a final vital stance by the first of the deadly incoming pyroclastic currents.
Multidisciplinary studies on the victims’ skeletons and their biogeoarchaeological context shed light on the dynamic impacts of
the 79 AD Plinian eruption on the area around the volcano and on the causes of death of its inhabitants. A recent unprecedented
archaeological discovery revealed unique evidence of preservation of a vitrified brain from a human victim found in the town.
SEM analysis of brain and spinal cord vitrified remains showed an integrally preserved central nervous system. Results from site
research combined with lab analysis offer new insights concerning the unique conditions occurred during the 79 AD Vesuvius
eruption, with crucial implications for the present-day risk of a similar outcome to around three million people living close to the
volcano, including metropolitan Naples.
Keywords:Forensic Anthropology; Bioarchaeology; 79 AD Eruption Victims; Vesuvius