A Pompeiian Life

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The ancient Roman city of Pompeii, located in modern-day Italy, continues to fascinate scientists and archaeologists even though it has been deeply excavated and studied for decades.

Recently, a science team was able to sequence the genome of a Pompeiian man who died in the volcanic eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

Researchers analyzed the petrous bones found at the base of the skulls of a man and a woman, whose remains were well-preserved by the volcanic ash that covered the city.

The team wrote in their study that they couldn’t extract enough genetic information from the woman but the man’s DNA offered an interesting profile of one of the city’s residents.

The man, believed to be in his late 30s or early 40s, was about 5-foot-4-inch tall and suffered from spinal tuberculosis, a common ailment at the time.

But the findings also showed that his genetic profile was consistent with that of the central Italian population of the Roman Imperial Age: His ancestors possibly came from Anatolia – or Asia Minor – during the Neolithic Age.

While there have been previous attempts to study other victims of the eruption, this is the first time scientists successfully sequenced Pompeiian DNA. Researchers noted that the pyroclastic materials made from the explosion actually “shielded” bones from environmental factors that degrade DNA.

They hope this discovery helps pave the way for more information about the city and its inhabitants.

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