Lost Lives Revealed

Since they were first revealed in 1863, the casts from Pompeii which preserved the forms of the victims in their moment of death have generated huge interest. Stories of their supposed lives and deaths have proved to be persistent not just in novels and movies, but also in more academic treatments of the site.   As part of the Great Pompeii Project of 2015, the Superintendency organised the restoration of 86 of the 103 casts that have been made since 1863. Estelle Lazer and her team were given the opportunity to generate CT scans and x-ray analysis. While Dr Lazer and her team had undertaken the first CT scans and x-rays of a cast of an AD 79 eruption victim in 1994, this was the first time that it was possible to carry out a scientific analysis on a number of the plaster casts and the skeletons embedded within them. The results were unexpected. While there were new insights into the victims, their lives and their deaths, there was also much to learn about archaeological practices at Pompeii in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.