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The casts of Pompeii: Post-depositional methodological insights

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Martinon-Torres, Marcos  ORCID logo


The casts of Pompeii bear witness to the people who died during the Vesuvius 79 AD erup tion. However, studies on the cause of death of these victims have not been conclusive. A previous important step is the understanding of the post-depositional processes and the impact of the plaster in bones, two issues that have not been previously evaluated. Here we report on the anthropological and the first chemical data obtained from the study of six casts from Porta Nola area and one from Terme Suburbane. A non-invasive chemical analysis by portable X-ray fluorescence was employed for the first time on these casts of Pompeii to determine the elemental composition of the bones and the plaster. Elemental profiles were determined providing important data that cross-referenced with anthropological and strati graphic results, are clearly helpful in the reconstruction of the perimortem and post-mortem events concerning the history of these individuals. The comparative analyses carried out on the bone casts and other collections from burned bones of the necropolis of Porta Nola in Pompeii and Rome Sepolcreto Ostiense, and buried bones from Valencia (Spain), reveal the extent of high temperature alteration and post-depositional plaster contamination. These factors make bioarchaeological analyses difficult but still allow us to support asphyxia as the likely cause of death



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PLoS One

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)
BEAGAL18/00110, Dr Gianni Gallello, Conselleria de Innovacio´n, Universidades, Ciencia y Sociedad Digital, Generalitat Valenciana, PROMETEO 2019-056, Dr M. Luisa Cervera, Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, H2020- MSCA-IF-2015-704709-MATRIX., Dr Gianni Gallello