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Mummies Alive:

Investigating How Mt. Vesuvius's Victims Died

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»Hero of Herculaneum

Investigating How Mt. Vesuvius's Victims Died

Short | 04:39

The Herculaneum victims were thought to have died from volcanic gas asphyxiation. But a closer look at their skeletons suggests the gas may have killed them in a different way.

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More About This episode

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius wreaked havoc on the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum 2,000 years ago, burying them in ash. But there's a forgotten chapter to this tragedy, involving a mass grave of 300 men, women, and children, unearthed in a Herculaneum boathouse in 1982. Found among the corpses: the mummified remains of a man, separated from the others, armed to the teeth and carrying a cache of gold and silver. Was he a hero or a villain? Scientists look for clues in the ancient city and on the body itself.

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