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New Thoughts on Pompeii’s Last Day

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Pompeii graffiti datingNAPLES, ITALY—According to a BBC News report, archaeologists have found an inscription in Pompeii that calls into question the timing of the fatal eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. The charcoal scrawl records a date that corresponds to October 17, or about two months after August 24, the date settled upon by historians for the natural disaster. The August date is based upon copies of letters written by Pliny the Younger, a lawyer and author, to Tacitus, a Roman senator and historian, some 20 years after the fact. Alberto Bonisoli, Italy’s minister for cultural heritage and activities, and Massimo Osanna, director general of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, suggest an alternate date of October 24 for the eruption, which would support archaeological evidence uncovered in the ruined city, including the presence of autumnal fruits and heating braziers. For more on recent discoveries in Pompeii, go to “Pompeii Revisited.”

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