When Mount Vesuvius erupted on August 24, 79 A.D., it would have likely been a hauntingly beautiful sight. Then, fear would have overtaken everything as lava started to engulf the landscape and people panicked. Victims would have attempted to flee in terror. They would have been, quite literally, running for their lives.
However, according to a new study, the event might have been more horrifying than initially suspected.
According to the New York Post, the eruption would have been “mind-blowing” — and that’s literally, not figuratively speaking.
A new study has suggested that the blood of victims from the eruption at Mount Vesuvius would have boiled with the extreme temperatures and their skulls would have exploded as well. In addition, “their muscles, flesh, and brains were replaced with ash.”
“The extraordinarily rare preservation of significant putative evidence of hemoprotein thermal degradation from the eruption victims strongly suggests the rapid vaporization of body fluids and soft tissues of people at death due to exposure to extreme heat,” the abstract from the study reveals.
“New investigations on the victims’ skeletons unearthed from the ash deposit filling 12 waterfront chambers have now revealed widespread preservation of atypical red and black mineral residues encrusting the bones, which also impregnate the ash filling the intracranial cavity and the ash-bed encasing the skeletons.”
The study was conducted by Pierpaolo Petrone, Piero Pucci, Alessandro Vergara, Angela Amoresano, Leila Birolo, Francesca Pane, Francesco Sirano, Massimo Niola, Claudio Buccelli, and Vincenzo Graziano and has been published in the scientific journal, PLOS One. It is titled “A Hypothesis of Sudden Body Fluid Vaporization in the 79 AD Victims of Vesuvius.”
So, how hot was it after the eruption at Mount Vesuvius?
According to the experts, temperatures ranged from between 750 and 930 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 398 to 499 degrees Celsius). Considering water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), that is one particularly hot day in Pompeii.
The extreme temperature fluctuation when Mount Vesuvius erupted in Italy occurred because the eruption had a thermal energy “100,000 times more powerful than the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II,” according to the New York Post.
In addition to killing many people at Pompeii, Herculaneum and some outlying villas were also impacted by the destruction caused by the Mount Vesuvius eruption. In total, it is believed that at least 1,000 people lost their lives on that fateful day.
The devastation at Pompeii caused by the Mount Vesuvius eruption was only discovered in the 18th century after being revealed by a surveying engineer. The fascination with this event has continued ever since.