What Exactly Was This Man Doing When Mount Vesuvius Erupted?

A newly uncovered photo of a preserved body from the ruins of the Mount Vesuvius eruption reveals the deceased in a precarious position.

In the above photo, you'll notice that when the gentleman in question shuffled loose the mortal coil, his right hand was strategically placed over his crotch.

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This led many to speculate that he may have been masturbating when he died.

It is, arguably, a tough position to counterpoint with any other logical possibility. However, that is where science comes in.

According to Pier Paolo Petrone, a volcanologist, victims of the 79 CE Mt. Vesuvius eruption in Pompeii were killed by "thermal shock."

This means that their organs were basically cooked by very deep, fourth-degree burns. It would have been excruciatingly painful.

Petrone spoke to journalists and said, "There is no way to demonstrate any 'masturbating man,' and it is out of place to discuss such an affirmation of some young time waster."

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He elaborated, "The individual in the photo is an adult man, killed by the hot pyroclastic surge — hot gas and ash cloud which killed most of the population living around Mount Vesuvius — with both arms and legs flexed due to the heat."


According to Petrone, the man likely ended up in that pose sometime after he died.

"Most of the human victims found in Pompeii often show 'strange' position of arms and legs, due to the contraction of limbs as a consequence of the heat effect on their bodies after death occurred," Petrone explained.