Intact neurons found in victim in Vesuvius

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Italian researchers have discovered neurons preserved in the vitrified brain of a victim of the volcano eruption Vesuvius that devastated the ancient Roman cities of Pompeia e Herculaneum you 79 dC




Archaeological site of Herculano, in southern Italy

Photo: ANSA / Ansa

The discovery is in a study published in the journal Plos One and was carried out by a multidisciplinary team from the universities Federico II, em Naples, Rome Three e State of Milan. The work was done in collaboration with the Ceinge, Neapolitan Institute of Advanced Biotechnology, with the National Research Council (CNR) and with the Archaeological Park of Herculaneum.

“The discovery of brain tissue in ancient human remains is an unusual event, but what is extremely rare is the integral preservation of neuronal structures in a central nervous system from 2000 years ago,” said the forensic anthropologist Pier Paolo Petrone, from the University of Naples Frederick II.

Professor of volcanology at the University of Rome Three Guido Giordano explained that the neurons were preserved thanks to the vitrification of the victim’s brain, which indicates the rapid cooling of the ash expelled by the volcano they covered Herculaneum in the first stage of the eruption.

“The extraordinary results obtained demonstrate the importance of multidisciplinary studies”, commented the director of the Archaeological Park of Herculano, Francesco Sirano. Research will continue to try to reconstruct the various phases of the eruption, evaluating the times of exposure to high temperatures and the cooling of the ashes.

When completed, the studies may offer parameters for the management of eventual emergencies in the area of Vesuvius.

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