The excavated shop. Inset: Skeletons found in a shop near the Porto Ercolano at Pompeii.

Archaeologists Find Pompeii Victims Who Perished in a Shop

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Archaeologists carrying out excavations on the outskirts of the Roman city of Pompeii have discovered the remains of four people in the ruins of an ancient shop. It is believed that they had gathered in the shop to seek shelter from the violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius, when it erupted in 79 A.D., burying the city in ashes.

The discovery was made by an Italian and French archaeological team, who were excavating a site at Porta Ercolano, located on the outskirts of Pompeii on a road leading to Herculaneum.

View of the northwest gate of Pompeii, the Porta Ercolano, leading to Herculaneum

View of the northwest gate of Pompeii, the Porta Ercolano, leading to Herculaneum ( Roger Ulrich / Flickr )

A City Frozen in Time

Pompeii was an ancient Roman city near modern-day Naples in Italy, which was wiped out and buried under 6 metres of ash and pumice following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.  It is an eerie feeling to walk the empty streets of Pompeii and to view shops and homes left virtually untouched for nearly two millennia.

When archaeologists discovered the ancient city, they found the city almost entirely intact –  loaves of bread still sat in the oven, the remains of meals remained discarded on the pavement, and the bodies of men, women, children, and pets were found frozen in their last moments, the expressions of fear still etched on their faces.

A Pompeii victim frozen in time.

A Pompeii victim frozen in time. Source: BigStockPhoto

New Victims Found

According to a  press release  put out by the Archaeological Superintendency of Pompeii , the newly discovered victims are of four young people, including an adolescent girl, who may have become trapped in the shop during the volcanic eruption.

Although many victims of the disaster were preserved in their moments of death by the pyroclastic flows bursting from Vesuvius, all that remained of the four individuals is a scattered pile of bones.

Skeletons found in a shop near the Porto Ercolano at Pompeii.

Skeletons found in a shop near the Porto Ercolano at Pompeii. (Image credit:  Soprintendenza Pompei )

Three gold coins dated to 74-78 AD and a necklace with a gold-leaf pendant in the shape of a flower were scattered among the remains.

One of the gold coins discovered among the bodies.

One of the gold coins discovered among the bodies. (Image credit:  Soprintendenza Pompei )

The research team is not sure what kind of business operated in the shop. It features a circular well that is accessed by a spiral staircase and a furnace. One theory is that it may have been used to make bronze objects.

The circular well accessed by a staircase.

The circular well accessed by a staircase. (Image credit:  Soprintendenza Pompei )

“This new find offers archaeologists a unique opportunity to connect four people attempting to protect themselves from Vesuvius with a particular place,” writes Forbes “which may allow us to get deeper insight into who these Pompeiians were and what their short lives were like.”

Top image: Main: The excavated shop. Inset: Skeletons found in a shop near the Porto Ercolano at Pompeii. (Image credit:  Soprintendenza Pompei )

By April Holloway

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