Full DNA of Pompeii man who died 2,000 years ago »Explorersweb

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Improvements in DNA analysis have once again allowed archaeologists to glimpse into the distant past.

Scientists have successfully sequenced the entire genome of one of the victims of Pompeii, the Italian city destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.

The volcanic ash that eradicated the city and its inhabitants also preserved them until the rediscovery of the city in the 18th century. Since then, scientists have continued to find new ruins and remains, including the man whose DNA now sheds new light on ancient mysteries.

Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii. Photo: Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock

Archaeologists first discovered this victim from Pompeii in the 1930s. He sat in the house of a blacksmith later called the Casa del Fabbro, or Craftsman’s House. The remains of a woman, likely aged 45 or older, were also found in the same room alongside a bag of money.

Recently, archaeologists discovered that the bones of these two individuals were better preserved than many other victims. This seemed to offer an opportunity for DNA analysis.

They found enough biological material in the man’s bones to allow the first-ever genetic profile of a victim from Pompeii. The researchers published their results in a article in Scientific reports.

DNA analysis results

They determined that the man was probably between 30 and 35 years old at the time of his death. He was about 164cm, or 5’5″ tall. His DNA suggests he resembled modern Sardinians and central Italians. This discovery seemed slightly surprising, although genetic diversity defined this period, due to the practice of slavery by the Roman Empire.

The man also probably suffered from spinal tuberculosis, common in Italy at that time. Several authors of that time have mentioned how common the disease was.

Studying ancient DNA, like samples from the victims of Pompeii, can reveal a lot about how our brains have changed over time. Researchers also hope that future work on other victims from Pompeii will help reconstruct the way of life of this Roman imperial period.

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