Almost 2,000 years ago, a child sheltered in Pompeii's central bath house complex as nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted terrifyingly, spewing vast amount of hot ash and pumice. The child's body was undisturbed until this year, when archaeologists using ground-scanning tools were surprised to find it just inches below the surface at an entryway to the bath house, the Local reports. The body of the child, believed to have been seven or eight years old, is the first to be found at Pompeii in decades. Researchers believe he or she, like thousands of others who failed to flee the Roman city near present-day Naples, was suffocated by clouds of ash, which later hardened around the body, reports the Telegraph.
Massimo Osanna, director of the Pompeii archaeological park, says the "extraordinary find" was made in an area formerly thought to have been fully excavated in the 19th century. "Thanks to new high-tech instruments, the last child of Pompeii has emerged from inside a previously unexcavated corner," Osanna says. The skeleton will be examined to determine whether it was a boy or a girl and whether the child had any diseases, the archaeological park said in a statement, which has an image of the remains. The park notes that unlike many other buildings in Pompeii, the roof of the part of the sprawling bath house complex where the body was found did not collapse, but volcanic material flowed through the windows in the final phase of the 79AD eruption. (Archaeologists say Pompeii residents had surprisingly good teeth.)