It’s a discovery that rewrites history books.
An extraordinary charcoal inscription has revealed that the catastrophic volcanic eruption that destroyed Pompeii and other surrounding cities occurred two months later than archaeologists thought until now.
It was firmly believed that the disaster occurred on August 27, 79 AD.
However, recent excavations on the archaeological site in southern Italy have yielded a carbachol inscription etched on a wall that includes the date the volcanic eruption actually took place: On October 17th.
The charcoal writing was discovered from an area in a house that was being renovated at that time, just before Vesuvius erupted, effectively burying the city of Pompeii Oplontis, and Stabiaeunder a massive blanket of ash and rock.
The discovery etched on the wall of a house in Pompeii reads: “the 16th day before the calends of November”, meaning 17 October.
“Being charcoal, fragile and evanescent, which could not last a long time, it is more than likely that it was written in October 79 AD,” said Massimo Osanna, head of the Pompeii site.
The discovery was made on a house renovated just before the eruption occurred, which is why experts believe that the writing would have been covered with plaster shortly after.
“That could help explain why, next to rooms with frescoed walls and ceilings, and with cemented floors — in some cases with tiles or marble slabs — there were some areas with plastered walls or even without floors, like the atrium and the entrance corridor,” archeologists explained.
The previous date, August 24, comes from an account of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius given by Pliny the Younger, a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome.
He witnessed the eruption and wrote about it nearly thirty years later when he described the catastrophic event in two letters to his friend Tacitus.
There have already been a few indications discovered that suggest the eruption did not take place in August.
For example, researchers have uncovered in previous excavations a calcified branch with berries that did not normally come in autumn.
Osanna argues that the correct date of the eruption is October 24, 79 AD.
“It is highly probable that it can be dated to the October of AD 79, and more precisely to a week prior to the great catastrophe, which according to this hypothesis occurred on the 24th October,” the archeological team explained in a statement.
“Today, with a lot of humility, maybe we’re rewriting the history books because we’re dating the eruption to the second half of October,” Alberto Bonisoli, Minister of Culture in the Conte Cabinet hailed.
It is believed that more than 30,000 people lost their lives in the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, with bodies still being discovered in Italy to this day.
The ancient City of Pompeii is the second most-visited tourist site in Italy, after the Colosseum in Rome. It receives more than 3 million visitors in the first eight months of this year.
Featured image via Quora.com