Pompeii Victims



Archaeologically excavations in Pompeii are some of the most unique places in the world. Here, as in the photo, the life of the whole city, its inhabitants, clothes, utensils and household items that they used daily were perfectly preserved. Of all the cities and villages that were destroyed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79, Pompeii gives us the most complete picture of the consequences of the eruption and the sequence of events that accompanied it. While Herculaneum was equally destroyed, the actions of the population were different. Since Herculaneum did not suffer from the initial fallout of volcanic debris, most of the population managed to escape before the pyroclastic wave swept the city.


Pompeii bodies victimsThe number of inhabitants of Pompeii during the eruption remains open for discussion, in the range of approximately from 6,000 to more than 20,000. The total number of victims found is 1,150 identifiable bodies. However, we must take into account that most of Pompeii still lies underground. In addition, the first excavations of the 18th and 19th century did not make any casts at all. That is, dozens or even hundreds of voids left by the bodies were simply ignored. Of these, 394 bodies were found in the lower layers of pumice, while 650 were found in the upper pyroclastic sediments. If we assume that there is a similar distribution of victims in the not excavated areas of the city, the total death toll in the city due to the eruption is more than 1600 people. How many people died outside the city, we probably never know.

During the first phase of the eruption, a large amount of pumice stone fell on Pompeii, burying the city to a depth of 6-9 feet. During this phase, most of the inhabitants managed to leave the city. However, 38% of the known victims were killed during this phase, mainly as a consequence of the collapse of the roofs and walls under the weight of pumice.

During the second phase of the eruption, 51% of the victims were inside buildings, while 49% were outdoors. All residents in this phase, however, regardless of their location, were killed by the pyroclastic wave that flooded the city. Surprisingly, but apparently the first wave was not so much destructive. Some residents were able to escape and were covered by the second pyroclastic wave.


Statistics of the dead inhabitants of Pompeii

Bodies found in sediments of pumice falling (The first hours of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius)

Location Inside Outside Total
Regio I 66 9 75
Regio II 12 7 19
Regio III 9 0 9
Regio IV 1 1 2
Regio V 40 0 40
Regio VI 41 2 43
Regio VII 59 5 64
Regio VIII 21 5 26
Regio IX 69 1 70
Unknown 10 2 12
Beyond city walls of Pompeii 17 17 34
Total 345 49 394


Bodies found in the pyroclastic deposit (Later hours of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius)


Location Inside Outside Total
Regio I 86 41 127
Regio II 26 73 99
Regio III 0 4 4
Regio V 0 0 0
Regio VI 11 16 27
Regio VII 33 14 47
Regio VIII 43 51 94
Regio IX 43 7 50
Unknown 4 5 9
Beyond city walls of Pompeii 49 70 119
Total 234 316 650


Plaster casts of corpses

Pompeii victimsThe soft tissues of the corpses were destroyed during the chaotic eruption, but they left behind empty niches. Archaeologists fill these voids with gypsum as a result they get exact copies of people who once died here. It is reliably known that at least 2,000 people died from the 20,000 inhabitants of Pompeii. However, this number is approximate. Many bodies were found outside the city limits of Pompeii, and many of the voids of many bodies were destroyed by early archaeologists who did not understand the importance of their discoveries. There is no doubt that a significant part of the population managed to escape. It was difficult for us to tell how their fate turned out and what exactly they felt when they returned to the place of their city covered with lava. You can only imagine. No records of personal experiences of these people have been preserved. We can only imagine it on the material finds of archaeologists.

In general, the organizers of the Museum of Pompeii, it seems to me, made a grave mistake by collecting most of the victims in one place. It would be more interesting to place the plaster figures or their copies in the places where they were found. Here are some of the victims of the death of Pompeii.


Garden of the Fugitives

The most famous collection of bodies is in the so-called Garden of the Runaways. The bodies of a small family, including adults and children, are preserved here. This is probably one of the most popular places in Pompeii.


PompeiiOne of the curious finds in Pompeii was found in the ruins of a small hotel known as the Moregin Hotel. Two bodies were found here. One body belonged to a young man, and another to a young woman. A gold bracelet in the shape of a snake with diamond eyes was found on the girl's hand. The bracelet weighed half a kilogram (1 pound). Inside this bracelet, the inscription "Dominus ancillae suae" (Lord to a Slave) ie. the owner gave this expensive thing to his former slave.

In Roman times, it was normal to keep a whole harem of slaves and sometimes slaves for personal pleasure. However, in this case, the master freed his beloved from slavery. It is possible that here they met and spent time away from everyone when they were overtaken by an eruption. The girl and the young man tried to hide in the knowledge and wait out the natural cataclysm in the vain hope that all this would end quickly. When pumice stone began to gather on the roof, and hardwood floors began to pop under the weight of geological rocks, the lovers tried to escape, but did not have time. The roof could not stand it and collapsed. Young people were instantly buried and died immediately.

Pompeii victim

In the last minutes of lives residents of Pompeii suffered the worst fate. Hot gases escaped the volcano and descended on the unsuspecting city. Many people who tried to flee pounding of the city by rocks and pumice were caught by this un- relentless enemy. Their last seconds of life were horrible and their bodies clearly depict last moments of agony. Many tried to cover their mouths or hide their faces in hopes that new danger will pass. It did not work.


Father and son

Pompeii victim

This strange composition of two bodies was found in a small private garden at a rich residence, known as the House of Crypto-Portico or the House of T. Lucretius Carus. Judging by the inscriptions it was house of Lucretius and his daughter. They apparently remained until the last moments at home and did not have time to escape. The girl tried to escape, burying her face in the clothes of her dying father.


Man in palestra

Pompeii victim

It was found in the South Colonnade at Palestine toilets. He was wearing boots and a hooded cloak. Apparently he tried to close his mouth with clothes to avoid painful death from eruption fumes.


Body of the slave

Pompeii victims

This plaster figure retained part of the skeleton. Visible bones of the skull and teeth. The belt of the victim is also clearly visible. In ancient times, such leather belts were issued to slaves. On them the owners wrote the name of the owner, the address and other information. In fact, slaves in ancient Rome had no more rights than modern dogs.


Body of the child

 Жертвы и тела в Помпеи

Unfortunately, this body is one of the few that left at the place of death of a person. Tourists often forget that Pompeii was not only a place of life, but also a place of death for thousands of people of all sexes and ages. The body of this child was found on the bottom step in the house of Fabius Rufus. Apparently he tried to run away, but lost consciousness and rolled down the stairs


Pompeii victim

Pompeii victim dog

This dog became a victim of the eruption as it was tied. The poor animal had no chance to save. Judging by the curved body, the dog died in terrible agony.


Most of the inhabitants of Pompeii did not die from lava or even from pieces of geological rocks and pumice stone that flew over the city. Most people died, suffocating poisonous gases from the eruption. The bodies of many victims have saved the last painful seconds of the lives of these people. Some tried to cover their faces in death agony. Unfortunately, this did not save them.


Skeletons in Pompeii

Not all the bodies found in Pompeii were turned into plaster casts. Sometimes find complete skeletons. So recently the corpse of a young man was found. The cause of death is clear without a doctor, as they say.

Skeleton Pompeii