Bodies of man and his slave unearthed from ashes at Pompeii

Bodies of man and his slave unearthed from ashes at Pompeii
1 / 3
The casts of what are believed to have been a rich man and his male slave fleeing the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago, are seen in what was an elegant villa on the outskirts of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii destroyed by the eruption in 79 A.D., where they were discovered during recents excavations, Pompeii archaeological park officials said Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (AP)
Bodies of man and his slave unearthed from ashes at Pompeii
2 / 3
This undated photo handout on November 21, 2020 by the Pompeii Archaeological Park shows a cast of one of the bodies of two men, a 40-year-old master and his young slave, after they were found during recent excavations of a Villa in Civita Giuliana in the outskirts of Pompeii, as Park officials said conditions were optimal to get casts of the victims, following the technique perfected in 1863 by Giuseppe Fiorelli. (AFP)
Bodies of man and his slave unearthed from ashes at Pompeii
3 / 3
This undated photo handout on November 21, 2020 by the Pompeii Archaeological Park shows casts of the bodies of two men, a 40-year-old master and his young slave, after they were found during recent excavations of a Villa in Civita Giuliana in the outskirts of Pompeii, as Park officials said conditions were optimal to get casts of the victims, following the technique perfected in 1863 by Giuseppe Fiorelli. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 22 November 2020

Bodies of man and his slave unearthed from ashes at Pompeii

Bodies of man and his slave unearthed from ashes at Pompeii
  • Pompeii officials said the men apparently escaped the initial fall of ash from Mount Vesuvius then succumbed to a powerful volcanic blast that took place the next morning

ROME: Skeletal remains of what are believed to have been a rich man and his male slave attempting to escape death from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago have been discovered in Pompeii, officials at the archaeological park in Italy said Saturday.
Parts of the skulls and bones of the two men were found during excavation of the ruins from what was once an elegant villa with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea on the outskirts of the ancient Roman city destroyed by the volcano eruption in 79 A.D. It’s the same area where a stable with the remains of three harnessed horses were excavated in 2017.
Pompeii officials said the men apparently escaped the initial fall of ash from Mount Vesuvius then succumbed to a powerful volcanic blast that took place the next morning. The later blast “apparently invaded the area from many points, surrounding and burying the victims in ash,” Pompeii officials said in a statement.
The remains of the two victims, lying next to each other on their backs, were found in a layer of gray ash at least 2 meters (6.5 feet) deep, they said.
As has been done when other remains have been discovered at the Pompeii site, archaeologists poured liquid chalk into the cavities, or void, left by the decaying bodies in the ash and pumice that rained down from the volcano near modern-day Naples and demolished the upper levels of the villa.
The technique, pioneered in the 1800s, gives the image not only of the shape and position of the victims in the throes of death, but makes the remains “seem like statues,” said Massimo Osanna, an archaeologist who is director general of the archaeological park operated under the jurisdiction of the Italian Culture Ministry.
Judging by cranial bones and teeth, one of the men was young, likely aged 18 to 25, with a spinal column with compressed discs. That finding led archaeologists to hypothesize that he was a young man who did manual labor, like that of a slave.
The other man had a robust bone structure, especially in his chest area, and died with his hands on his chest and his legs bent and spread apart. He was estimated to have been 30- to 40-years-old, Pompeii officials said. Fragments of white paint were found near the man’s face, probably remnants of a collapsed upper wall, the officials said.
Both skeletons were found in a side room along an underground corridor, or passageway, known in ancient Roman times as a cryptoporticus, which led to to the upper level of the villa.
“The victims were probably looking for shelter in the cryptoporticus, in this underground space, where they thought they were better protected,” said Osanna.
Instead, on the morning of Oct. 25, 79 A.D., a “blazing cloud (of volcanic material) arrived in Pompeii and...killed anyone it encountered on its way,” Osanna said.
Based on the impression of fabric folds left in the ash layer, it appeared the younger man was wearing a short, pleated tunic, possibly of wool. The older victim, in addition to wearing a tunic, appeared to have had a mantle over his left shoulder.
Mount Vesuvius remans an active volcano. While excavations continue at the site near Naples, tourists are currently barred from the archaeological park under national anti-COVID-19 measures.


‘Fake’ US leg band may get pigeon a reprieve in Australia

‘Fake’ US leg band may get pigeon a reprieve in Australia
Updated 15 January 2021

‘Fake’ US leg band may get pigeon a reprieve in Australia

‘Fake’ US leg band may get pigeon a reprieve in Australia
  • Australian authorities earlier considered the bird a disease risk and planned to kill it

CANBERRA, Australia: A pigeon that Australia declared a biosecurity risk may get a reprieve after a US bird organization declared its identifying leg band was fake.
The band suggested the bird found in a Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 was a racing pigeon that had left the US state of Oregon, 13,000 kilometers away, two months earlier.
On that basis, Australian authorities on Thursday said they considered the bird a disease risk and planned to kill it.
But Deone Roberts, sport development manager for the Oklahoma-based American Racing Pigeon Union, said on Friday the band was fake.
The band number belongs to a blue bar pigeon in the United States and that is not the bird pictured in Australia, she said.
“The bird band in Australia is counterfeit and not traceable,” Roberts said. “It definitely has a home in Australia and not the US.”
“Somebody needs to look at that band and then understand that the bird is not from the US They do not need to kill him,” she added.
Counterfeiting bird bands is “happening more and more,” Roberts said. “People coming into the hobby unknowingly buy that.”
Pigeon racing has seen a resurgence in popularity, and some birds have become quite valuable. A Chinese pigeon racing fan put down a record price of $1.9 million in November for a Belgian-bred pigeon.
Acting Australian Prime Minister Michael McCormack said he did not know what the fate of the bird named Joe, after the US president-elect, would be. But there would be no mercy if the pigeon were from the United States.
“If Joe has come in a way that has not met our strict biosecurity measures, then bad luck Joe, either fly home or face the consequences,” McCormack told reporters.
But Martin Foley, health minister for Victoria state where Joe lives, called for the federal government to spare the bird.
“I would urge the Commonwealth’s quarantine officials to show a little bit of compassion,” Foley said.
Andy Meddick, a Victorian lawmaker for the minor Animal Justice Party, called for a “pigeon pardon for Joe.”
“Should the federal government allow Joe to live, I am happy to seek assurances that he is not a flight risk,” Meddick said.
Melbourne resident Kevin Celli-Bird, who found the emaciated bird in his backyard, was surprised by the development and pleased that the bird he had named Joe might not be destroyed.
“Yeah, I’m happy about that,” Celli-Bird said, referring to news that Joe probably is not a biosecurity threat.
Celli-Bird had contacted the American Racing Pigeon Union to find the bird’s owner based on the number on the leg band. The bands have both a number and a symbol, but Celli-Bird didn’t remember the symbol and said he can no longer catch the bird since it has recovered from its initial weakness.
The bird with the genuine leg band had disappeared from a 560-kilometer race in Oregon on Oct. 29, Crooked River Challenge owner Lucas Cramer said.
That bird did not have a racing record that would make it valuable enough to steal its identity, he said.
“That bird didn’t finish the race series, it didn’t make any money and so its worthless, really,” Cramer said.
He said it was possible a pigeon could cross the Pacific on a ship from Oregon to Australia.
“It does happen. We get birds in the United States that come from Japan,” Cramer said. “In reality, it could potentially happen, but this isn’t the same pigeon. It’s not even a racing pigeon.”
The bird spends every day in the backyard, sometimes with a native dove on a pergola. Celli-Bird has been feeding it pigeon food from within days of its arrival. “I think that he just decided that since I’ve given him some food and he’s got a spot to drink, that’s home,” he said.
Lars Scott, a carer at Pigeon Rescue Melbourne, a bird welfare group, said pigeons with American leg bans were not uncommon around the city. A number of Melbourne breeders bought them online and used them for their own record-keeping, Scott said.
Australian quarantine authorities are notoriously strict. In 2015, the government threatened to euthanize two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, after they were smuggled into the country by Hollywood star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.
Faced with a 50-hour deadline to leave Australia, the dogs made it out in a chartered jet.