A photo of a preserved body from Pompeii during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE has given a strange insight into that question, with the victim appearing to be masturbating.
After being shared on the Pompeii Archaeological Park Instagram account, the picture has been circulating on Twitter, Reddit and 4 Chan, causing many to speculate what he was doing when Vesuvius took his life.
The leading theory firmly gripped by those online is the man was mid-tug at the time of his death.
Sadly, it appears as if the man didn’t die doing what he loved.
According to volcanologist Pier Paolo Petrone, victims of the eruption were killed by thermal shock when their organs were cooked by deep, fourth-degree burns.
“There is no way to demonstrate any ‘masturbating man,’ and it is out of place to discuss such an affirmation of some young time waster,” Petrone told the Daily Dot.
“The individual in the photo is an adult man, killed by the hot pyroclastic surge — hot gas and ash cloud which killed most of the population living around Mount Vesuvius — with both arms and legs flexed due to the heat.”
Petrone said it was most likely the man’s hands ended up in a masturbatory pose post-mortem.
“Most of the human victims found in Pompeii often show ‘strange’ position of arms and legs, due to the contraction of limbs as a consequence of the heat effect on their bodies after death occurred,” he said.
New York Post