(Haaretz) Italian scientists are a few thousand euros and a test tube away from conclusively identifying the body of Pliny the Elder, the Roman polymath, writer and military leader who launched a naval rescue operation to save the people of Pompeii from the deadly eruption of Mt. Vesuvius 2,000 years ago.
If successful, the effort would mark the first positive identification of the remains of a high-ranking figure from ancient Rome, highlighting the work of a man who lost his life while leading history's first large-scale rescue operation, and who also wrote one of the world's earliest encyclopedias.
Given that Italian cultural and scientific institutions are mired in budget troubles, the Pliny project is seeking crowdfunding for the scientists, who also studied Oetzi the Iceman – the 5,300-year-old mummy found perfectly preserved in an alpine glacier.
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