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In Pompeii, found inscription that could change date of Vesuvius eruption in 79 CE

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

An inscription has been found in Pompeii that may change the dating of  the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in CE 79

Researchers found an extremely intriguing artifact in Pompeii. From the earth was excavated a wall, and on it a inscription, which was made of charcoal. Probably it was made by a worker who was repairing house.

XVI (ante) K(alendas) Nov(embres) in[d]ulsit pro maumis esurit[ioni]
16th day before November’s calends over-indulged in food

How should we understand, when exactly this funny mural was created? 16th day before November’s calends is October 17th. A record made of unstable and brittle charcoal, according to the researchers, would not have survived long on the wall of the house. It survived only thanks to protective layer of volcanic ash. Researchers suggest that it would last seven days, and basing on that the explosion could take place on October 24th.

This discovery influences the scientists’ discussion regarding the exact dating of the great explosion of Vesuvius. It was widely accepted that this explosion occurred in the summer, in August. However, already in the nineteenth century, there were voices suggesting that the cataclysm occurred in autumn. The evidence for that were found prints of the branch of the bush with autumn berries. What’s more, the remains of pomegranate and hearths – characteristic of the autumn season – were discovered.

If the conclusions of the scientists prove to be true, it is possible that the historic books will have to be corrected.


There are, however, voices suggesting that the inscription should be dated for 62 CE. Historian Pier Luigi Tucci read the indistinct inscription as “16th day before the November’s calends, the Vesuvius shaked (the walls? The house? The city?) to the highest degree”. The researcher suggests that this inscription may refer to the event from 62 CE, when Pompeii suffered from an earthquake. (more)

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