Researchers in Italy say that the victims of Pompeii had perfect teeth right up to (and past) the moment when they were covered in and petrified by volcanic ash. So tell us, Science: How did they maintain those perfect sets of Pomper Chompers?

Modern-day scientists speculate that the Pompeians’ teeth were perfected by their healthy diets (which consisted of a lot of fruits and vegetables) and the high levels of fluorine that exist around Vesuvius, the very volcano that would destroy them all in 79 AD.

The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance writes:

The latest findings build on an astounding body of knowledge about Pompeii. “Because of careful scholarship, we collectively have been able to get beyond the study of the victims’ death and have opened up exciting information about what the victims’ lives had been like,” said Roger Macfarlane, a professor of classical studies at Brigham Young University. “And, so, any technological development, such as CT scanning of the skeletal remains of those who perished in 79 A.D., promises to introduce potentially interesting new evidence about how those people existed before their death.”

In the 1800s, the skeletal remains of Pompeii were cast in plaster for protection. Unfortunately, this protective casing also made them extremely hard to research. In fact, it was only very recently that scientists—with the help of multi-layer CT scans—have been able to make 3-D reconstructions of the skeletons to provide insights into Pompeian life.

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“The scans,” LaFrance notes, “also support a theory that many of those who were killed after the eruption died from head injuries—caused by falling rock or collapsing infrastructure—and not from suffocation.”

At least they got to keep those perfect dental arches.


Contact the author at madeleine@jezebel.com.

Image via Pompeii/TriStar.