May 29 (UPI) -- Archaeologists discovered the fossil remains of a man crushed by a rock while fleeing the Pompeii eruption in 79 AD.
Researchers believe the man was knocked backward by a thick pyroclastic cloud. A large stone dragged by the cloud hit the man in the head and chest, crushing his upper torso but leaving his lower limbs exposed.
"This is an exceptional finding," Massimo Osanna, director general of the archaeological park at Pompeii, told local news Torre Sette.
Researchers said the discovery of new human remains at Pompeii allows them to compare the pathologies and lifestyles of the city's early inhabitants, as well as analyze the dynamics of the populace's panicked escape.
"Investigating them with tools and professionalism that are increasingly specific and present in the field, contribute to an increasingly precise story of the history and civilization of the time, which is the basis of archaeological research," Osanna said.
Analysis of the skeleton suggests the victim was a 30-year-old man. Lesions found on the man's tibia suggest he suffered from a bone infection. The malady may explain why he was unable to escape in the wake of the eruption's early warning signals.
"These are the remains of a limping individual, who was probably prevented from escaping from motor difficulties," Osanna said.