Plaster Casts from the 79 A.D. Eruption of Vesuvius

One of the morbidly fascinating results of the 79 A.D. eruption of Vesuvius is the large number of holes found in the volcanic deposits around Pompeii that represented corpses of people and animals that were buried by the hot ash. The ash lithified before the corpses decayed so that a good mold of the deceased remained. Early in the excavation it was discovered that filling these molds with plaster produced remarkable casts of the victims of the eruption. This page is a collection of photos taken of casts at Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naploli.


This man lies in a glass case in a dimly lit room in Pompeii.


This one is also at Pompeii. The contorted shapes of the bodies suggests the agony of their last moments.


This cast appeared to still be under preparation on a back table in a workroom/ storeroom.


I'm not sure where this little piggy was headed but it never made it.



Another cast in a storeroom at Pompeii.


These eerie figures are actually part of a film that is projected on the wall at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Napoli.

Note the door and the silhouettes at the bottom of the photo on the left.


These two images also come from the film .


Different casts from the same mold. the one on the left is at a workroom in Pompeii and the one on the right is in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. This person apparently saw the end was imminent and curled up to wait to die.


This person was found draped over a stairway.


This grisly scene at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale potrays a group of children and adults waiting for a boat that never came.


Ash must have flowed under this man as he fell to the ground to preserve this somewhat upright pose.


This appears to be a family group that died together.


A man cradles the head of a woman as they waited for the end.


Two more casts showing men in their final resting positions. The hot ash had the combined effects of asphyxiation and scalding all life forms in its path. Death came quickly.