The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Friday, July 30, 2021

Extraordinary discovery of neurons in the vitrified brain of a victim of the 79 AD Vesuvian eruption
Spinal cord neurons & axons. Photo: © Pier Paolo Petrone 2020.

ROME.- A new study published from PLOS ONE, an authoritative American scientific journal, reveals the exceptional discovery of human neurons from a victim of the eruption that in AD 79 buried Herculaneum, Pompeii and the Vesuvius area up to 20 km away from the volcano.

Using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and advanced image processing tools Pier Paolo Petrone, forensic anthropologist at the University Federico II of Naples, and a team of archaeologists, geologists, biologists, forensic scientists, neurogeneticists and mathematicians managed for the first time to show the preservation of neuronal cells in the vitrified remains of brain and spinal cord, that Petrone discovered during his recent investigations at the Herculaneum archaeological site. "The discovery of brain tissue in ancient human remains is an unusual event - explains Petrone, team leader - but what is extremely rare is the integral preservation of neuronal structures of a 2000 years ago central nervous system, in our case at an unprecedented resolution".

The eruption, which devastated the Vesuvian area with thousands of casualties, caused the rapid burial of the town thus allowing the preservation of biological remains, even human ones. "The extraordinary discovery of perfectly preserved ancient neuronal structures has been induced by the conversion of human tissue into glass, which is indicative of the rapid cooling of the hot volcanic ash clouds that hit Herculaneum at the beginning of the eruption” explain Guido Giordano, volcanologist at the University of Roma Tre. “The results of our study show that the vitrification process occurred at Herculaneum, unique of its kind, has "frozen" the neuronal structures of this victim, preserving them intact until today", adds Petrone.

The investigation of the victims of the eruption continues in line with the various areas of research. “The fusion of the knowledge of forensic anthropology and forensic medicine are giving unique information, otherwise not obtainable," says Massimo Niola, director of Legal Medicine at the University Federico II of Naples.

The study also investigated some proteins already identified by Petrone and colleagues in a paper published last January by the New England Journal of Medicine. “An important aspect of the study concerns the expression of genes that encode several proteins isolated from the vitrified human brain tissue” says Giuseppe Castaldo, a clinical biochemist at the University Federico II of Naples. “Our data reveal that all the identified gene transcripts are present in various districts of the brain such as the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, amygdala or hypothalamus”, adds Maria Pia Miano, neurogenetist at the National Research Council of Naples.

The investigation of the remains of the eruption victims does not stop here. “These and other results of the bioanthropological and volcanological investigations underway at Herculaneum are gradually bringing to light details never before highlighted, which enrich the complex picture of events of the most famous of the Vesuvius eruptions” says Petrone.

"The extraordinary results obtained by this research team - concludes Francesco Sirano, Director of the Archaeological Park of Herculaneum - demonstrates the value of multidisciplinary studies and the uniqueness of this extraordinary site, once again in the international limelight with its priceless heritage of archaeological treasures and discoveries".

Pier Paolo Petrone is a forensic anthropologist. He is head of the Laboratory of Human Osteobiology and Forensic Anthropology at the departmental section of Legal Medicine, University Federico II of Naples.

Today's News

October 5, 2020

Postponed Artemisia Gentileschi exhibition now open at the National Gallery

Britain's Royal Opera House to sell Hockney painting to raise funds

Kenzo Takada, first Japanese designer to conquer Paris fashion, dies aged 81

Why this artist is paying bodegas with 120,000 pennies

The Städel Museum opens an exhibition of Netherlandish drawings of the eighteenth century

Extraordinary discovery of neurons in the vitrified brain of a victim of the 79 AD Vesuvian eruption

Victoria Miro announces representation of Paula Rego

Page Bond Gallery opens an exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Peri Schwartz

French star Jeanne Moreau's dresses to be sold

Phillips announces highlights from the October auctions of 20th Century & Contemporary Art in London

Initio Fine Arts opens exhibition of works by Anna Horváth and Reda Amalou

Rare 13th century Islamic gold coin estimated to fetch £200,000-300,000 at Morton & Eden

Exhibition considers artistic explorations of scale, material, and process

James Cohan now represents Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

Oil painting by David Burliuk brings $39,100 at Weiss Auctions

Barack Obama's historic basketball jersey and Michelle Obama's iconic dress head to Julien's Auctions

Ideals of beauty, female figure explored in Nelson-Atkins exhibition

Virginia Bianchi Gallery opens an exhibition of works by artists Wednesday Kim and Giuliana Rosso

'Everything crossed over': Michael Clark's cheeky world of dance

Solo exhibition of new work by Rivane Neuenschwander on view at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

Artcurial to offer over 1500 items from the Roméo Collection

Sotheby's announces highlights included in its inaugural annual "Halloween" Spirits sale

1948 Bristol 400 for sale with H&H Classics at the Imperial war museum Duxford

Bodleian Libraries celebrate visionary female photographer Helen Muspratt with retrospective

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful