Joshua Tree National Park Closes Due to Damage to Namesake Trees

SmartNews Keeping you current Many national parks remain understaffed during the government shutdown while instances of vandalism and destruction rise (Shay Spatz/National Park Service) January 2, 2019 | Updated: January 8, 2019 10:13PM Editor’s Note, January 8, 2019: The Associated Press reports that Joshua Tree National Park will be temporarily closed to visitors due to […]

Time to Get Jiggily With it, Fat Bear Week Is Upon Us

Update, October 10, 2018: After seven days of fierce competition, voters have determined which of the chubby cubbies of Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve reigned supreme for this year’s Fat Bear Week. And your 2018 winner is… 409 Beadnose. “What does the she win for all this hard work? Stronger chances of living through the winter,” Katmai National Park’s […]

Maldivian Government Destroys World’s First Intertidal Art Gallery

(Cat Vinton) (Jason deCaires Taylor) (Cat Vinton) (Jason deCaires Taylor) SmartNews Keeping you current Before President Abdulla Yasmeen lost the country’s election, his government ordered the demolition of the conservation-minded underwater sculpture garden July 27, 2018 | Updated: an hour ago Update, September 24, 2018: The world’s first semi-submerged art gallery space is no […]

The U.S. Military Has Been in Space From the Beginning

The words “Space Force” conjure up images of plastoid-alloy-clad soldiers firing ray guns at aliens, but military activities in space aren’t just science fiction. The U.S. military has been involved with space since the beginning, just, perhaps, not under that name. Today, Vice President Mike Pence revealed that the administration hopes to have Space Force […]

Egyptian Authorities Open Sealed Ptolemaic-Era Sarcophagus

Update, July 20, 2018: Archaeologists appointed by Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities have opened the sealed black granite sarcophagus that has had the internet abuzz since news of its discovery was announced earlier this month.  Egypt Today delivered live updates on the press conference, where archaeologists announced that the Ptolemaic-era find contained three skeletons and red-brown sewage […]

New Evidence Smashes Assumptions of Crushing Death for Pompeii Skeleton

Updated, June 29, 2018: The “Crushed Man” was, in fact, not crushed. Nicholas St. Fleur at the

New York Times reports that further excavations revealed that the man’s intact skull was underneath the stone block. It’s likely that he died of asphyxiation from the erupting volcano. The stone block probably fell onto the body later during or after the eruption. Read our original reporting of the discovery below:

If it hasn’t become a meme yet, it soon will: there’s an image floating around the web about a skeleton with a giant stone block sitting where its skull should be. The picture comes from new excavations at the archaeological site of Pompeii where, in 79 C.E., an eruption of Mount Vesuvius devastated the prosperous ancient Roman city and covered it with ash, freezing the scene of mass chaos in time.

As CNN’s Gianluca Mezzofiore and Valentina DiDonato report, the skeleton tells the story of one poor man pinned beneath the rock. His bones indicate he was at least 30 years old, and lesions on his tibia show he had a bone infection that likely gave him a limp. After surviving the first frightening moments of the eruption, he was probably moving as fast as he could down an alleyway to flee the city when the pyroclastic flow, a high-speed tsunami of lava, ash, rock and gas rushed down the side of the mountain and slammed into Pompeii. The power of the impact is what may have propelled a giant stone block, which could be a doorjamb, onto the victim, crushing his thorax and pinning him beneath the ash for the next 2,000 years.

Yonette Joseph at The New York Times reports that archaeologists have not found the man’s head, but believe it is still underneath the stone. In a statement, Massimo Osanna, general director of the archaeological site, calls the skeleton “an exceptional find” that contributes to a better “picture of the history and civilization of the age.”

The crushed man is not the only recent find in Pompeii, which was rediscovered under the ash in 1748 and has undergone a series of excavations since. This month, researchers released images of a complete outline of a horse that died in its stable, likely while it was being harnessed so its owner could flee. Researchers also revealed that they had found a block of houses with intact balconies, some of which still had amphora, tall two-handed jars used for wine or oil, sitting on them.

As archaeologists bring the latest high-tech gadgetry to the site, new revelations are following. Osanna explains to CNN that an interdisciplinary team of engineers, restorers and archaeologists used drones and 3D scanners to recover the skeleton. Archaeologists had previously dug in the same area, but had not gone deep enough to find the crushed fellow. “This is the first time an excavation happens with all of these tools,” Osanna says.

Researchers have been trying to recreate Pompeii digitally as well—including creating one pretty cool virtual reality visit to a Roman villa.

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