The eruption that destroyed Pompeii would have occurred in October, not August of the year 79

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[EN VIDÉO] Archeology: the bodies of two men excavated north of Pompeii
Excavations carried out at the beginning of the year in Pompeii revealed two new victims of Vesuvius’ past wrath. Discover photos of the work done by archaeologists at the site. © Pompeii Sites

outbreak Mount Vesuvius In the year 79 it caused a terrible human tragedy by causing panic in the entire region around volcano, especially the city of Pompeii. Based on the famous letter sent by Pliny the Younger to his friend Tacitus, scholars have long been able to establish the date of this catastrophe. The young Roman, who was at that time in the Bay of Naples, witnessed the eruption of Vesuvius live. In his letter he describes in detail all the geological phenomena that preceded the explosion (earthquake, ash plumes) and then the eruption of the volcano itself. Uncle, aunt Pliny the ElderThe one who accompanied him would also be one of the victims of the disaster.

According to medieval translations that have reached us, the young man dates the beginning of the eruption nine days before the September calendar (Nonum Cal. September), i.e. August 24 in the morning.

Many clues that do not match the eruption in August

This letter, the origin of which has unfortunately disappeared, is the only clue to the history of the eruption of the volcano. Although this date has long been widely accepted, numerous archaeological studies have revealed many inconsistencies, suggesting that the city of Pompeii was to be buried two or even three months later. In fact, Some petrified corpses Found on site and they appear to be warmly dressed. remains Wood Burnt in stoves also assume the temperatures weren’t like August. Likewise, there are fruits found in various shops and preserved with ash Typical October fruits : FigsAnd the pomegranateolives… More disturbingly, a coin found at the site of Pompeii commemorates the 15th chant of Emperor Titus, which falls on September 8, 79. writingsfound in Wall From a house, he also mentions October 17, although the year is not mentioned. So everything indicates that the volcanic eruption would not have occurred at the end of summer, but in Fall More precisely between October 17 and 1Verse November 79.

Nearly two millennia after this terrible eruption, a multidisciplinary team looked again at the various effects left by this event with the goal of better characterizing and, if possible, accurately dating it. Thus a large amount of data was accumulated: historical, stratigraphic, sedimentary, lithological, geophysical, paleoclimatic and modeling data.

A back-dating event by copyist monks?

The results are published in Earth Science Reviews, thus proving that the volcanic eruption would in fact not have occurred on August 24 but certainly on October 24-25. This new date already corroborates the numerous information provided by archeology, since the year 79 is validated by isotopic dating of volcanic deposits. According to the stratospheric rotation model, the study of the direction of winds At the time of the eruption, it also supports the idea that the volcano erupts in the fall rather than in the summer.

Could Pliny the Younger’s date be wrong? This is not possible. The error could alternatively come from the earliest translation of Pliny the Younger’s letter which was used as a reference. This translation dates back to the 9the century. However, at the time, it was common for copyist monks to change the dates of major historical events to make them match certain religious or cultural stories.

The study authors present a hypothesis, noting that the date of August 24 corresponds to an ancient Roman rite, ” Vulcanalia On that day, the spirits of the dead resurfaced thanks to the opening of a “link” between the underworld and the world of the living. On August 24 of each year, the Romans moved the stone to block this passage, allowing the spirits to exit into the city. The stone was replaced three days later This ritual will surely represent a partial similarity suitable for eyes Transcriptionist monks to explain the “opening” of the crater of Vesuvius, which in the Middle Ages was considered a passage to hell.

Understand the 79 outbreak path to better assess current risks

Determining the date of the event was not the only objective of this study. One of the key points was to better understand the different stages of the eruption in order to prepare the area for a new disaster of the same kind, Vesuvius is still an active volcano. The volcanic danger is very real and especially high in this densely populated area. The study also shows that the volcanic eruption had an impact on a very large area, as volcanic deposits have been found as far as Greece.

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