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ISSN: 2690-5752

Journal of Anthropological and Archaeological Sciences

Short Communication(ISSN: 2690-5752)

Herculaneum 79 AD: Neuronal Tissue Preservation from a Vitrified Human Brain Volume 4 - Issue 2

Pierpaolo Petrone1*, Vincenzo Graziano1, Giuseppe Castaldo2, Mariano Paternoster1, Francesco Sirano3, Guido Giordano4, Alessandra Pensa4, Alessandro Vona4, Emanuele Capasso1 and Massimo Niola1

  • 1Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, via Pansini 5, Naples, Italy
  • 2CEINGE - Biotecnologie Avanzate. Via Gaetano Salvatore 486, Naples, Italy
  • 3Parco Archeologico di Ercolano, Corso Resina 187, Naples, Italy
  • 4Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Largo San Leonardo Murialdo 1, Rome, Italy

Received:May 25, 2021;   Published: June 02, 2021

Corresponding author:Pierpaolo Petrone, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Naples, Italy

DOI: 10.32474/JAAS.2021.04.000184


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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

Abstract| Introduction| Historical Background| Acknowledgment| Author Contributions| Competing Interests| References|