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Pompeii inscription rewrites volcanic eruption history

An inscription discovered on a house in the ruins of Pompeii suggests the city was destroyed by a volcanic eruption two months later than currently believed.

Historians have dated the eruption of Mount Vesuvius to 24 August 79 AD, based on contemporary writings and archaeological finds.

But a newly discovered writing on the wall of a house suggests the city was destroyed after “the 16th day before the calends of November”, meaning 17 October, rather than in August.

The head of archaeology for the site, Massimo Osanna, told Italian media that the inscription had been recently discovered – and it is the latest evidence that the 24 August suggestion is wrong.

Pompeii was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in AD 79
Image: It was one of the most devastating eruptions in European history

Foods in the harvests of Pompeii and autumnal fruits on branches found in the ashen ruins had prompted speculation of a much later data than August since the 19th century, Mr Osanna said.

More from Italy

“Today, with much humility, perhaps we will rewrite the history books because we date the eruption to the second half of October,” added Italy’s minister of culture, Alberto Bonisoli.

The eruption buried the ancient city in up to 6 metres (20ft) of volcanic ash and dust, killing scores of people but also providing a remarkably preserved snapshot of ancient Roman life.

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