During the 1864 excavations, the director of excavations, Giuseppe Fiorelli, discovered a technique that allowed the body shapes to be preserved.
Rather than digging through the ash to remove the skeletons that were found, Fiorelli instructed diggers to pour plaster into the hollow. After this was done, they left the plaster to harden for a few days.
Once it was hardened, they chipped off the outer layers of hardened ash. What they saw in front of them was a detailed plaster cast of bodies of citizens of Pompeii at the moment of their death.
There have been a number of images circling around the internet of different people during the eruption. Some were by themselves, struggling, while others were with their family members, including children.
One photo shows a family that looks like they are huddled together, or sleeping in the ruins of Pompeii. The image is truly heartbreaking to look at.
Another image is a cast of a corpse that was found in the Garden of Fugitives as well as a plaster of a dog lying down in Pompeii. These images honestly make this tragic event so real.
There is even an image of a man that was preserved at Pompeii that has gone viral, for a less “emotional” reason.
By the way that the man seems to be positioned, people are speculating that he was preserved in one final act of self-love. But this is a miscaption. Scientists believe the most likely explanation is that the body was displaying the pose of someone experiencing sudden muscle shrinkage due to extremely hot temperatures.