Fleeing Pompeii: Bodies Frozen in Time

Thursday, December 10, 2020 noon to 1 p.m.

Join us for lunch in Pompeii! Faculty from the UCF Anthropology and Chemistry Departments, and educators from Orlando Science Center, will help us walk back in time and explore artifacts from Pompeii: The Immortal City and how they relate to the modern world. The artifacts discussed in these talks will be on display in Pompeii: The Immortal City traveling exhibit at Orlando Science Center, October 26 – January 24.

Zoom virtual talks: 30 minute talk and then moderated Q&A.


Speaker: Sandra Wheeler, Ph.D., Associate Lecturer, UCF Department of Anthropology

Abstract: This talk explores what we know about the people of Pompeii through a review of the scientific research undertaken on so called “ash mummies”. These Pompeiians are colloquially referred to as “ash mummies” because of how their bodies were preserved. When the ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius covered them, it formed a protective shell around their bodies. When the skin and tissue eventually decayed, they left voids with the preserved skeletal remains inside. Later when archaeologists discovered these people-shaped voids, they filled them with plaster and chipped away the ash to discover the remarkably preserved people in their final moments. These preserved bodies provide insights into the deaths, but also the lives of every day Pompeiians.

Speaker Biography: Dr. Sandra Wheeler is an associate lecturer specializing in bioarchaeology. Dr. Wheeler received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Western Ontario in 2009. Her current research focuses on the bioarchaeological analysis of infants and children to shed light on mortuary practices involving the youngest members of society. This research synthesizes information from the social, cultural and natural environments to gain an understanding of children’s lives and deaths in the past. Dr. Wheeler also researches ancient birthing practices, maternal health, growth and development, ancient health and disease, and mortuary landscapes. Her current and upcoming fieldwork examines patterns of health and disease, trauma, and mortuary practices in ancient Egyptian populations.

Dr. Wheeler joined the UCF faculty in 2010 and teaches Cultural Anthropology, Sex, Gender & Culture, Peoples of the World, Human Species, Human Osteology, Primatology, Archaeological Sciences, Mortuary Archaeology, and Anthropology of the Undead: Mummies, Zombies, and Vampires.

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Bioarchaeology Anthropology Lunch in Pompeii Pompeii: The Immortal City Orlando Science Center