While people with broken bones and other medical concerns may be familiar with CT scans as a powerful modern diagnostic tool, these scans can sometimes also unlock mysteries of the past. Case in point is an ongoing evaluation of the victims of Pompeii. The hope behind using advanced medical tests on the victims encased in stone from the lava flow is to gain a better understanding of the people of Pompeii, their lives and their relationships to each other.
Hoping to unravel some of the mysteries about these people and what their lives may have been like, researchers have kicked off a major project. Taking 86 of the casts of those encased in lava and preserved for all time, scientists are beginning to unlock clues about life in Pompeii before the volcano blew its top. By taking CT scans, looking at dental records and running DNA tests, scientists are learning more and more about these people of past.
So far, the study has shown that the people of Pompeii ate a much healthier diet than many people do today. In fact, it appears their staples were very low in sugar. Remarkably, researchers have also noted that many of those trapped in the lava flow had most of their teeth intact at the time of their deaths. These teeth, it has also been found, were clearly used for cutting based upon their shape.
The CT scans that have been performed so far have revealed some interesting information. For example, some of the casts that have been examined revealed fractured bones. This finding has led scientists to speculate that these victims may have died not from the lava flow, but instead from their roofs collapsing on them first. Another interesting find was a victim that was found to be wearing a thickly woven cloth. This, some assert, seems to indicate the eruption may have occurred in the fall rather than the summer time frame that has been previously set.
While only 16 victims have been examined thus far, the findings are shedding new light on the lives and times of those caught up in Mt. Vesuvius’ fury. The hope is to complete a full examination of the casts in the near future.