Italian scientists have identified fragments of black, glassy mass in the skeleton of one of the victims of the eruption of Vesuvius as the brain — this confirms the analysis of the characteristic protein and fat in its composition. This is a rare case of vitrification of the soft tissues in the human remains: so far, they have been described only on the victims of the bombing in the Second world war. A study published in the journal The New England Journal of Medicine.
The eruption of mount Vesuvius left behind almost two thousand of victims not only in Pompeii but also Herculaneum were nearby. The remains of many victims were preserved in one form or another, but often archaeologists only find individual bones. Soft tissues, including the nervous, remain much less common. In particular, the brain usually saponified is a complex fat consisting of neurons disintegrate into glycerol and fatty acids, which form salts that are in the soap.
Pierpaolo Petrone (Pierpaolo Petrone) from Naples University and his colleagues studied the remains of a man who discovered in mid-1960-ies in a small room on the former site of Herculaneum. Man lying on stomach, face down, and his skeleton preserved only the rib cage and part of the limbs. The bones of the skull, presumably, did not survive contact with hot volcanic ash.