May 23, 2022

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The human brain turned into glass after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius - teach me about science

The human brain turned into glass after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius – teach me about science

August 24, 79 AD was the last day for the citizens of Pompeii and Herculaneum, after the first major eruption was recorded. [desde el contexto histórico] Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed and buried the mentioned cities.

Although these areas are currently considered archaeological sites that allow investigation into Roman culture in cities that have not changed since antiquity, many investigations have been made, in order to understand what that disastrous day was like for the Romans. They were buried during volcanic activity.

In 1960, a team of archaeologists found the buried remains of the native Herculaneum, who was lying on a wooden bed covered with volcanic ash. Then, the remains were analyzed by Italian researchers from the University of Naples Federico II, who focused their attention on the content inside the man’s skull, and discovered a structure of highly shiny black molten glass, similar to obsidian. The results were reported by Pierpaolo Petrone et al, in New England Journal of Medicine.

A vitrified part of the brain was found in a Roman skull at Herculaneum. Dr. Pier Paolo Petron 2020

In the document, the researchers confirmed that it was human brain tissue that underwent a vitrification process due to the high temperatures that were reached after the catastrophic volcanic event (meaning that the tissue had been scorched at high temperatures and had been scorched to become vitreous or enamel).

Although brain tissue is extremely rare in similar archaeological works, due to its rapid decomposition, there are occasions when it can be preserved through chemical changes that occur in triglycerides through saponification of brain tissue. However, in this case, the fabric was exposed to such a high temperature (perhaps over 520°C) that it was vitrified. “This indicates that intense heat can ignite body fat and evaporate soft tissue, followed by a rapid drop in temperature,” the authors explain in their paper.

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To prevent confusion between the found structure and formations from volcanic activity, the team performed a proteomic analysis, finding a large number of proteins that are highly expressed in human brain tissue. The researchers claim that this discovery is “unique” and appears to be the first time it has been seen in an archaeological context.

Pompeii and Physuvius.

Currently, Mount Vesuvius is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, due to the large urban settlement around it, and the volcanic activity that has occurred in recent years. Its last eruption was recorded in 1944, and since then it has been under observation.

The case was reported in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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