There are a lot of heartbreaking sights to be found in the ruins of Pompeii, which was buried by a violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. A research team at the Pompeii Archaeological Park has found a new one to add to the list, and it's horrific.
A fresh excavation site at a crossroads revealed a skeleton with a large block of stone crushing its head.
An initial analysis of the scene in Italy shows the victim likely survived the first phase of the volcano's eruption and went into an alley seeking shelter.
"A formidable stone block (perhaps a door jamb), violently thrown by the volcanic cloud, collided with his upper body, crushing the highest part of the thorax and yet-to-be-identified head," the researchers say.
The archaeologists assume the skeleton's head is still under the stone block. An anthropologist at the site studied the skeleton and determined it's an adult male over 30 years old. The remains show signs of a bone infection in one leg that would have likely made walking difficult and impeded his escape from the disaster.
The catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius claimed an estimated 2,000 lives, though the exact number isn't known and excavations continue to turn up remains. Layers of ash helped to preserve the ancient Roman town, which is now a major tourist draw.
The skeleton has attracted some snarky attention on Twitter as internet users contemplate the man's unlucky end combining a natural disaster, a flying rock and infection.
While we may have a morbid fascination with the bleak deaths uncovered at Pompeii, the skeleton is giving scientists valuable information about the doomed city's history, its residents and their lifestyles at the time of the eruption.
First published May 30, 8:58 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:30 a.m. PT: Adds snarky internet reactions.