(by Aniello Sammarco).
(ANSA) - Torre Annunziata (Naples), August 8 - Residents of an ancient Roman villa near the Campania town of Torre Annunziata, Naples, were healthy but often had dental problems, according to a new study on the remains of dozens of victims of the Mt Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD.
The anthropology and DNA study, which is still ongoing and will be completed at the end of the month, is being carried out by Professor Nicola Terrenato from the University of Michigan, Professor Kristina Killgrove from the University of West Florida and Andrea Acosta, a PhD student at the University of Southern California.
Researchers are analyzing the remains of at least 54 victims found in the archaeological area of Oplontis, at the Villa of Lucius Crassius Tertius near Poppea's Villa, the area's two major buildings.
The remains were first found in the 1990s in the villa where they had fled in an attempt to save their lives during the eruption.
Coins and jewels were found close to their remains.
The new study is revealing precious information on the lifestyle and diseases of local residents as it is the first to be conducted on the whole area of Pompeii.
Similar studies had so far focused on the area of Herculaneum.
The skeletons found include those of two pregnant women who were almost full-term.
Many of the victims had common genetic traits and were generally in good health, scientists said after completing the first phase of the study.
Contrary to former research conducted in other ancient Roman archaeological areas, studies conducted in the Vesuvius area enable archaeologists to investigate the lifestyle of individuals of different ages who died a violent death and were in the prime of life.
The fact that no pathologies like anemia emerged could mean that diseases like malaria were not present and that the population's diet was healthy.
On the contrary, the dental situation varied a lot: many of the skeletons examined had missing teeth, dental erosion and several cavities.
The teeth of some children and teens also appeared to show a prolonged period of sickness or famine.
The research was conducted by the three US universities along with the direction of the archaeological park of Pompeii and were funded by the National Endowment for Humanities, the Rust Family Foundation for Archaeological Research and the University of West Florida.
(by Aniello Sammarco).