Reconstruction of a Herculaneum Resident

July 11, 2017

The exploded skull of a man who died in the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago has been pieced together, giving scientists a unique opportunity to capture the ancient face using 3D imaging.

It is the first real-life reconstruction of the features of a victim of the volcanic disaster who lived in the ill-fated seaside town of Herculaneum.

The appearance is that of a typical southern European who may have been wealthy and educated because he was 50 years old when he died — an unusual milestone for the time.

He was one of 350 casualties discovered frozen in time, buried under volcanic ash in Herculaneum.

Every single resident perished instantly when the southern Italian town was hit by a 500° centigrade pyroclastic hot surge in AD 79.


The excavation of Pompeii, the industrial hub of the region, and Herculaneum, a small beach resort, has given unparalleled insight into Roman life.

"This is the beginning of what we're hoping will be an on-going project to reveal the faces of the ancient Roman inhabitants of Herculaneum and Pompeii", said Italian 3D graphic designer Gianfranco Quaranta who is leading the initiative as part of the Association for Research and Education in Art, Archaeology and Architecture (AREA3).

Janet Tappin Coelho and Phoebe Weston. "EXCLUSIVE: Scientists piece together the exploded skull of a 50-year-old man, who died in 500°C heat from the Mount Vesuvius eruption 2,000 years ago, to reveal his face for the first time". – Science & Tech, 06:14 EDT, 21 June 2017.