How had I never heard of these until now?
From Slate.com, portraits of final agony, frozen in time by Mt. Vesuvius, rendered in chilling detail by astute 19th century scientists who realized the ash had preserved the body-space of the disaster’s victims, and sought to capture the human forms left behind in void with plaster.
These casts were made mostly in the mid 1800’s, and were on display together until the building housing them was damaged during WWII. Some casts are now housed in various places around Naples, as well as in an exhibition at the Antiquarium de Boscoreale, near Pompeii.
Visit Atlas Obscura for more information and pictures.
And what does this have to do with funeral planning? Besides the fact that I thought it was just freaking cool, let it jar your mind a bit out of your usual complacency and comfort.
The citizens of Pompeii and Herculaneum had little warning that their death was coming before Vesuvius blew her top that afternoon. You may think it’ll never happen that way these days, that you’ll see the end coming and have time to prepare–but strokes, drunk drivers, choking accidents, heart attacks, they all beg to differ. Don’t let your own Vesuvius catch you unaware!