Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79

Mount Vesuvius, a stratovolcano in modern-day Italy, erupted in AD 79 in one of the most famous and deadly volcanic eruptions in European history, which was witnessed and documented by Pliny the Younger, a Roman administrator and poet. [1]

Mount Vesuvius violently spewed forth a deadly cloud of super-heated tephra and gases to a height of 33 km (21 mi), ejecting molten rock, pulverized pumice and hot ash at 1.5 million tons per second, ultimately releasing 100,000 times the thermal energy of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings. [2]

Several Roman settlements were obliterated and buried underneath massive pyroclastic surges and ashfall deposits, the best known being Pompeii and Herculaneum. [1][2] After archeological excavations revealed much about the lives of the inhabitants, the area became a major tourist attraction, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and part of Vesuvius National Park.

The total population of both cities was 16,000–20,000. The remains of over 1,500 people have been found at Pompeii and Herculaneum, but the death toll is still unclear. The event is the namesake for the Vesuvian type of volcanic eruptions, characterized by eruption columns of hot gases and ash exploding into the stratosphere, although the event also included pyroclastic flows associated with Pelean eruptions.

AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius
Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum
VolcanoMount Vesuvius
DateAugust 24–25 or October/November, AD 79
LocationCampania, Italy
40°49′N 14°26′E / 40.817°N 14.433°ECoordinates: 40°49′N 14°26′E / 40.817°N 14.433°E
ImpactBuried the Roman settlements of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae.

Precursors and foreshocks

Karl Brullov - The Last Day of Pompeii - Google Art Project
The Last Day of Pompeii. Painting by Karl Brullov, 1830–1833

The AD 79 eruption was preceded by a powerful earthquake seventeen years before on February 5, AD 62, which caused widespread destruction around the Bay of Naples, and particularly to Pompeii.[3] Some of the damage had still not been repaired when the volcano erupted.[4] The deaths of 600 sheep from "tainted air" in the vicinity of Pompeii, reported by Seneca the Younger, leads volcanologist Haraldur Sigurðsson to compare them to similar deaths of sheep in Iceland from pools of volcanic carbon dioxide and to speculate that the earthquake of AD 62 was related to new activity by Mount Vesuvius.[5]

Another smaller earthquake took place in AD 64; it was recorded by Suetonius in his biography of Nero,[6] and by Tacitus in Annales because it took place while Nero was in Naples performing for the first time in a public theatre.[7] Suetonius recorded that the emperor continued singing through the earthquake until he had finished his song, while Tacitus wrote that the theatre collapsed shortly after being evacuated.

The Romans grew accustomed to minor earth tremors in the region; the writer Pliny the Younger wrote that they "were not particularly alarming because they are frequent in Campania". Small earthquakes were felt for four days before the eruption, becoming more frequent,[4] but the warnings were not recognized.[8]

Nature of the eruption

Reconstructions of the eruption and its effects vary considerably in the details but have the same overall features. The eruption lasted for two days. The morning of the first day was perceived as normal by the only eyewitness to leave a surviving document, Pliny the Younger, who at that point was staying at Misenum, on the other side of the Bay of Naples about 29 kilometres (18 mi) from the volcano, which may have prevented him from noticing the early signs of the eruption. He was not to have any opportunity, during the next two days, to talk to people who had witnessed the eruption from Pompeii or Herculaneum (indeed he never mentions Pompeii in his letter), so he would not have noticed early, smaller fissures and releases of ash and smoke on the mountain, if such had occurred earlier in the morning.

Around 1:00 pm, Mount Vesuvius violently erupted, spewing up a high-altitude column from which ash and pumice began to fall, blanketing the area. Rescues and escapes occurred during this time. At some time in the night or early the next day, pyroclastic flows in the close vicinity of the volcano began. Lights seen on the mountain were interpreted as fires. People as far away as Misenum fled for their lives. The flows were rapid-moving, dense, and very hot, knocking down wholly or partly all structures in their path, incinerating or suffocating all population remaining there and altering the landscape, including the coastline. These were accompanied by additional light tremors and a mild tsunami in the Bay of Naples. By evening of the second day, the eruption was over, leaving only haze in the atmosphere through which the sun shone weakly.

Pliny the Younger wrote an account of the eruption:

Broad sheets of flame were lighting up many parts of Vesuvius; their light and brightness were the more vivid for the darkness of the night... it was daylight now elsewhere in the world, but there the darkness was darker and thicker than any night.[9]

Stratigraphic studies

Mt Vesuvius 79 AD eruption
Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as other cities affected by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The black cloud represents the general distribution of ash, pumice and cinders. Modern coast lines are shown; Pliny the Younger was at Misenum.

Sigurðsson, Cashdollar, and Sparks undertook a detailed stratigraphic study of the layers of ash, based on excavations and surveys, which was published in 1982. Their conclusion was that the eruption of Vesuvius of AD 79 unfolded in two phases, Vesuvian and Pelean, which alternated six times. [10]

First, the Vesuvian eruption, consisting of a column of volcanic debris and hot gases ejected between 15 km (9.3 mi) and 30 km (19 mi) high into the stratosphere, lasted eighteen to twenty hours and produced a fall of pumice and ashes southward of the volcano that accumulated up to depths of 2.8 m (9.2 ft) at Pompeii.

Then, in the Pelean phase, pyroclastic surges of molten rock and hot gases flowed over the ground, reaching as far as Misenum, which were concentrated to the west and northwest. Two pyroclastic surges engulfed Pompeii, burning and asphyxiating any living beings who had remained behind. Herculaneum and Oplontis received the brunt of the surges and were buried in fine pyroclastic deposits, pulverized pumice and lava fragments. Surges 4 and 5 are believed by the authors to have destroyed and buried Pompeii.[11] Surges are identified in the deposits by dune and cross-bedding formations, which are not produced by fallout.

The eruption is viewed as primarily phreatomagmatic, where the chief energy supporting the blast column came from escaping steam created from seawater seeping over time into the deep-seated faults of the region, coming into contact with hot magma.

Timing of explosions

In an article published in 2002, Sigurðsson and Casey concluded that an early explosion produced a column of ash and pumice which rained on Pompeii to the southeast but not on Herculaneum, which was upwind.[12] Subsequently, the cloud collapsed as the gases densified and lost their capability to support their solid contents.

The authors suggest that the first ash falls are to be interpreted as early-morning, low-volume explosions not seen from Misenum, causing Rectina to send her messenger on a ride of several hours around the Bay of Naples, then passable, providing an answer to the paradox of how the messenger might miraculously appear at Pliny's villa so shortly after a distant eruption that would have prevented him.

Magnetic studies

Wnętrze krateru Wezuwiusz
Inside the crater of Vesuvius

A 2006 study by Zanella, Gurioli, Pareschi, and Lanza used the magnetic characteristics of over 200 samples of lithic, roof-tile, and plaster fragments collected from pyroclastic deposits in and around Pompeii to estimate the equilibrium temperatures of the deposits.[13] The deposits were placed by pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) resulting from the collapses of the Plinian column. The authors argue that fragments over 2–5 cm (0.8–2 in) were not in the current long enough to acquire its temperature, which would have been much higher, and therefore they distinguish between the depositional temperatures, which they estimated, and the emplacement temperatures, which in some cases based on the cooling characteristics of some types and fragment sizes of rocks they believed they also could estimate. Final figures are considered to be those of the rocks in the current just before deposition.[14]

All crustal rock contains some iron or iron compounds, rendering it ferromagnetic, as do Roman roof tiles and plaster. These materials may acquire a residual field from a number of sources. When individual molecules, which are magnetic dipoles, are held in alignment by being bound in a crystalline structure, the small fields reinforce each other to form the rock's residual field.[15] Heating the material adds internal energy to it. At the Curie temperature, the vibration of the molecules is sufficient to disrupt the alignment; the material loses its residual magnetism and assumes whatever magnetic field might be applied to it only for the duration of the application. The authors term this phenomenon unblocking. Residual magnetism is considered to "block out" non-residual fields.

A rock is a mixture of minerals, each with its own Curie temperature; the authors therefore looked for a spectrum of temperatures rather than a single temperature. In the ideal sample, the PDC did not raise the temperature of the fragment beyond the highest blocking temperature. Some constituent material retained the magnetism imposed by the Earth's field when the item was formed. The temperature was raised above the lowest blocking temperature and therefore some minerals on recooling acquired the magnetism of the Earth as it was in AD 79. The overall field of the sample was the vector sum of the fields of the high-blocking material and the low-blocking material.

This type of sample made possible estimation of the low unblocking temperature. Using special equipment that measured field direction and strength at various temperatures, the experimenters raised the temperature of the sample in increments of 40 °C (70 °F) from 100 °C (210 °F) until it reached the low unblocking temperature.[16] Deprived of one of its components, the overall field changed direction. A plot of direction at each increment identified the increment at which the sample's resultant magnetism had formed.[17] That was considered to be the equilibrium temperature of the deposit. Considering the data for all the deposits of the surge arrived at a surge deposit estimate. The authors discovered that the city, Pompeii, was a relatively cool spot within a much hotter field, which they attributed to interaction of the surge with the "fabric" of the city.[18]

The investigators reconstruct the sequence of volcanic events as follows. On the first day of the eruption a fall of white pumice containing clastic fragments of up to 3 centimetres (1 in) fell for several hours.[19] It heated the roof tiles to 120–140 °C (250–280 °F).[20] This period would have been the last opportunity to escape. Subsequently, a second column deposited a grey pumice with clastics up to 10 cm (4 in), temperature unsampled, but presumed to be higher, for 18 hours. These two falls were the Plinian phase. The collapse of the edges of these clouds generated the first dilute PDCs, which must have been devastating to Herculaneum, but did not enter Pompeii.

Early in the morning of the second day the grey cloud began to collapse to a greater degree. Two major surges struck and destroyed Pompeii. Herculaneum and all its population no longer existed. The emplacement temperature range of the first surge was 180–220 °C (360–430 °F), minimum temperatures; of the second, 220–260 °C (430–500 °F). The depositional temperature of the first was 140–300 °C (280–570 °F). Upstream and downstream of the flow it was 300–360 °C (570–680 °F).[21]

The variable temperature of the first surge was due to interaction with the buildings. Any population remaining in structural refuges could not have escaped, as the city was surrounded by gases of incinerating temperatures. The lowest temperatures were in rooms under collapsed roofs. These were as low as 100 °C (210 °F), the boiling point of water.[22] The authors suggest that elements of the bottom of the flow were decoupled from the main flow by topographic irregularities and were made cooler by the introduction of ambient turbulent air. In the second surge the irregularities were gone and the city was as hot as the surrounding environment.

During the last surge, which was very dilute, one metre more of deposits fell over the region.[23]

Two Plinys

Pompeii, with Vesuvius towering above

The only surviving eyewitness account of the event consists of two letters by Pliny the Younger, who was 17 at the time of the eruption,[24] to the historian Tacitus and written some 25 years after the event.[25][26] Observing the first volcanic activity from Misenum across the Bay of Naples from the volcano, approximately 29 kilometres (18 mi) away, the elder Pliny launched a rescue fleet and went himself to the rescue of a personal friend. His nephew declined to join the party. One of the nephew's letters relates what he could discover from witnesses of his uncle's experiences.[27] In a second letter the younger Pliny details his own observations after the departure of his uncle.[28]

Pliny the Younger

The two men saw an extraordinarily dense cloud rising rapidly above the mountain:[27]

I cannot give you a more exact description of its appearance than by comparing to a pine tree; for it shot up to a great height in the form of a tall trunk, which spread out at the top as though into branches. [...] Occasionally it was brighter, occasionally darker and spotted, as it was either more or less filled with earth and cinders.

These events and a request by messenger for an evacuation by sea prompted the elder Pliny to order rescue operations in which he sailed away to participate. His nephew attempted to resume a normal life, continuing to study, and bathing, but that night a tremor awoke him and his mother, prompting them to abandon the house for the courtyard. At another tremor near dawn the population abandoned the village. After still a third "the sea seemed to roll back upon itself, and to be driven from its banks", which is evidence for a tsunami. There is, however, no evidence of extensive damage from wave action.

The early light was obscured by a black cloud through which shone flashes, which Pliny likens to sheet lightning, but more extensive. The cloud obscured Point Misenum near at hand and the island of Capraia (Capri) across the bay. Fearing for their lives the population began to call to each other and move back from the coast along the road. Pliny's mother requested him to abandon her and save his own life, as she was too corpulent and aged to go further, but seizing her hand he led her away as best he could. A rain of ash fell. Pliny found it necessary to shake off the ash periodically to avoid being buried. Later that same day the ash stopped falling and the sun shone weakly through the cloud, encouraging Pliny and his mother to return to their home and wait for news of Pliny the Elder. The letter compares the ash to a blanket of snow. Evidently the earthquake and tsunami damage at that location were not severe enough to prevent continued use of the home.

Pliny the Elder

Pliny's uncle Pliny the Elder was in command of the Roman fleet at Misenum, and had meanwhile decided to investigate the phenomenon at close hand in a light vessel. As the ship was preparing to leave the area, a messenger came from his friend Rectina (wife of Bassus) living on the coast near the foot of the volcano, explaining that her party could only get away by sea and asking for rescue.[29] Pliny ordered the immediate launching of the fleet galleys to the evacuation of the coast. He continued in his light ship to the rescue of Rectina's party.[29]

He set off across the bay but in the shallows on the other side encountered thick showers of hot cinders, lumps of pumice, and pieces of rock. Advised by the helmsman to turn back he stated "Fortune favors the brave" and ordered him to continue on to Stabiae (about 4.5 km or 2.8 mi from Pompeii), where Pomponianus was.[29] Pomponianus had already loaded a ship with possessions and was preparing to leave, but the same onshore wind that brought Pliny's ship to the location had prevented anyone from leaving.[29]

Pliny and his party saw flames coming from several parts of the mountain, which Pliny and his friends attributed to burning villages. After staying overnight, the party was driven from the building by an accumulation of material which threatened to block all egress.[29] They woke Pliny, who had been napping and emitting loud snoring. They elected to take to the fields with pillows tied to their heads to protect them from rockfall. They approached the beach again but the wind had not changed. Pliny sat down on a sail that had been spread for him and could not rise even with assistance when his friends departed, escaping ultimately by land.[30] Very likely, he had collapsed and died, which is the most popular explanation of why his friends abandoned him, although Suetonius offers an alternative story of his ordering a slave to kill him to avoid the pain of incineration. How the slave would have escaped to tell the tale remains a mystery. There is no mention of such an event in his nephew's letters.

In the first letter to Tacitus his nephew suggested that his death was due to the reaction of his weak lungs to a cloud of poisonous, sulphurous gas that wafted over the group.[29] However, Stabiae was 16 km (9.9 mi) from the vent (roughly where the modern town of Castellammare di Stabia is situated) and his companions were apparently unaffected by the fumes, and so it is more likely that the corpulent Pliny died from some other cause, such as a stroke or heart attack.[31] An asthmatic attack is also not out of the question. His body was found with no apparent injuries on the next day, after dispersal of the plume.

Casualties from the eruption

Pompeii Garden of the Fugitives 02
The casts of some victims in the so-called "Garden of the Fugitives", Pompeii.

Along with Pliny the Elder, the only other notable casualties of the eruption to be known by name were the Jewish princess Drusilla and her son Agrippa, who was born in her marriage with the procurator Antonius Felix.[32]

By 2003, approximately 1,044 casts made from impressions of bodies in the ash deposits had been recovered in and around Pompeii, with the scattered bones of another 100.[33] The remains of about 332 bodies have been found at Herculaneum (300 in arched vaults discovered in 1980).[34] What percentage these numbers are of the total dead or the percentage of the dead to the total number at risk remain completely unknown.

Ring Lady
The skeleton called the "Ring Lady" unearthed in Herculaneum

Thirty-eight percent of the 1,044 were found in the ash fall deposits, the majority inside buildings. These are thought to have been killed mainly by roof collapses, with the smaller number of victims found outside buildings probably killed by falling roof slates or by larger rocks thrown out by the volcano. This differs from modern experience, since over the last 400 years only around 4% of victims have been killed by ash falls during explosive eruptions. The remaining 62% of remains found at Pompeii were in the pyroclastic surge deposits[33] and thus were probably killed by them. It was initially believed that due to the state of the bodies found at Pompeii and the outline of clothes on the bodies it was unlikely that high temperatures were a significant cause. But in 2010, studies indicated that during the fourth pyroclastic surge – the first surge to reach Pompeii – temperatures reached 300 °C (572 °F). Volcanologist Giuseppe Mastrolorenzo, who led the study, noted: "(It was) enough to kill hundreds of people in a fraction of a second". In reference as to why the bodies were frozen in suspended action, "The contorted postures are not the effects of a long agony, but of the cadaveric spasm, a consequence of heat shock on corpses."[35]

Herculaneum, which was much closer to the crater, was saved from tephra falls by the wind direction but was buried under 23 metres (75 ft) of material deposited by pyroclastic surges. It is likely that most, or all, of the known victims in this town were killed by the surges, particularly given evidence of high temperatures found on the skeletons of the victims found in the arched vaults and the existence of carbonised wood in many of the buildings.

These people were all caught on the former seashore by the first surge and died of thermal shock but not of carbonization, although some were partly carbonized by later and hotter surges. The arched vaults were most likely boathouses, as the crossbeams in the overhead were probably for the suspension of boats. No boats have been found, indicating they may have been used for the earlier escape of some of the population. The rest were concentrated in the chambers at a density of as high as three persons per square meter. As only 85 metres (279 ft) of the coast have been excavated, the casualties waiting to be excavated may well be as high as the thousands.[36]

Date of the eruption

For the past five centuries, articles about the eruption of Vesuvius have typically indicated that the event began on August 24 of 79 AD. This date came from a 1508 printed version of a letter between Pliny the Younger and the Roman historian Tacitus, itself written some 25 years after the event.[37][38] Pliny was a witness to the eruption and provides the only known eyewitness account. Unfortunately, in the course of fourteen centuries of handwritten manuscript tradition that led up to the 1508 printing of his letters, the date given in Pliny's original letter may have been corrupted. Manuscript experts believe that the date originally given by Pliny was one of the following: August 24, October 30, November 1, or November 23.[39] This odd, scattered, set of dates is due to the Romans' convention for describing calendar dates. The large majority of extant medieval manuscript copies – there are no surviving Roman ones – indicate a date corresponding to August 24, and from the discovery of the cities into the 21st century this has been accepted by most scholars and by nearly all books written about Pompeii and Herculaneum for the general public.

However, in October 2018, Italian archaeologists stated they had uncovered an inscription dated October 17, lending support to later date interpretations of the letter and apparently ruling out August 24.[40]

Vesuvius and its destructive eruption are mentioned in first-century Roman sources, but not the day of the eruption. For example, Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews mentions that the eruption occurred "in the days of Titus Caesar."[41]

Suetonius, a second-century historian, in his Life of Titus simply says that, "There were some dreadful disasters during his reign, such as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Campania."[42]

Writing well over a century after the actual event, Roman historian Cassius Dio (as translated in the Loeb Classical Library 1925 edition) wrote that, "In Campania remarkable and frightful occurrences took place; for a great fire suddenly flared up at the very end of the summer."[43]

Since at least the late 18th century, a minority among archaeologists and other scientists have suggested that the eruption began after August 24, during the autumn, perhaps in October or November. In 1797 the researcher Carlo Rosini reported that excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum had uncovered traces of fruits and braziers indicative of the autumn, not the summer.

More recently, in 1990 and 2001, archaeologists discovered remnants of autumnal fruits (such as the pomegranate), the remains of victims of the eruption in heavy clothing, and large earthenware storage vessels laden with wine (at the time of their burial by Vesuvius). The wine-related discovery perhaps indicates that the inundation occurred after the year's grape harvest and winemaking.[44]

In 2007 a study of prevailing winds in Campania showed that the southeasterly debris pattern of the first-century eruption is quite consistent with an autumn event, and inconsistent with an August date. During June, July, and August, the prevailing winds flow to the west – an arc between the southwest and northwest – virtually 100 percent of the time.[44] (Note that the Julian calendar was in place throughout the first century AD – that is, the months of the Roman calendar were aligned with the seasons.)

As Emperor Titus of the Flavian dynasty (reigning June 24, 79 to September 13, 81) garnered victories on the battlefield (including his capture of the Temple of Jerusalem), and other honors, his administration issued coins enumerating his ever-growing accolades. Given the limited space on each coin, his achievements were stamped on the coins using an arcane encoding. Two of these coins, from early in Titus' reign, were found in a hoard recovered at Pompeii's House of the Golden Bracelet. Although the coins' minting dates are somewhat in dispute,[44] a numismatic expert at the British Museum, Richard Abdy, concluded that the latest coin in the hoard was minted on or after June 24 (the first date of Titus' reign) and before September 1 of 79 AD. Abdy states that it is "remarkable that both coins will have taken just two months after minting to enter circulation and reach Pompeii before the disaster."[45]


  1. ^ a b Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (October 15, 2010). "Pompeii: Portents of Disaster". BBC History. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Science: Man of Pompeii". Time. October 15, 1956. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
  3. ^ Martini, Kirk (September 1998). "Chapter 2: Identifying Potential Damage Events". Patterns of Reconstruction at Pompeii. Pompeii Forum Project, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH), University of Virginia.
  4. ^ a b Jones, Rick (28 September 2007). "Visiting Pompeii – AD 79 – Vesuvius explodes". Current Archeology. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  5. ^ Sigurðsson 2002, p. 35 on Seneca the Younger, Natural Questions, 6.1, 6.27.
  6. ^ Suetonius, C. Tranquillus (1914) [121]. "20". The Life of Nero. The Lives of the Caesars. Loeb Classical Library, William P. Thayer.
  7. ^ Tacitus, Publius Cornelius (1864–1877) [117]. "Book 15.22". The Annals. Modern Library, The Internet Sacred Text Archive.
  8. ^ The dates of the earthquakes and of the eruption are contingent on a final determination of the time of year, but there is no reason to change the relative sequence.
  9. ^ "Pliny the Younger, Epistulae VI.16 & VI.20". Ancient Literature. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  10. ^ Sigurðsson, Haraldur; Cashdollar, Stanford; Sparks, R. Stephen J. (January 1982). "The Eruption of Vesuvius in A. D. 79: Reconstruction from Historical and Volcanological Evidence". American Journal of Archaeology. 86 (1): 39–51. doi:10.2307/504292. JSTOR 504292.
  11. ^ Sigurðsson 2002, pp. 42–43.
  12. ^ Sigurðsson 2002
  13. ^ Zanella 2007, p. 5.
  14. ^ Zanella 2007, p. 6.
  15. ^ Zanella 2007, p. 10.
  16. ^ Zanella 2007, p. 8.
  17. ^ Zanella 2007, pp. 9–10.
  18. ^ Zanella 2007, p. 1.
  19. ^ Zanella 2007, p. 3.
  20. ^ Zanella 2007, p. 12.
  21. ^ Zanella 2007, p. 13.
  22. ^ Zanella 2007, p. 14.
  23. ^ Zanella 2007, p. 15.
  24. ^ His 18th year by Roman reckoning, as they counted the first 12 months as the first year
  25. ^ Delphi Complete Works of Pliny the Younger, Volume 28 of Delphi Ancient Classics
  26. ^ C. Plinii Caecilii Secundi. "Liber Sextus; 16 & 20". Epistularum. The Latin Library.
  27. ^ a b Pliny the Younger (1909). Eliot, Charles W., ed. "Letters LXV. To Tacitus". The Harvard Classics. IX Part 4. New York: Bartleby.
  28. ^ Pliny the Younger (1909). Eliot, Charles W., ed. "Letters LXVI. To Cornelius Tacitus". The Harvard Classics. IX Part 4. New York: Bartleby.
  29. ^ a b c d e f Pliny the Younger. "VI.16 To Tacitus". Letters.
  30. ^ Richard V. Fisher and volunteers. "Derivation of the name "Plinian"". The Volcano Information Center, Department of Geological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved May 15, 2010.
  31. ^ Janick, Jules (2002). "Lecture 19: Greek, Carthaginian, and Roman Agricultural Writers". History of Horticulture. Purdue University. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2010.
  32. ^ Josephus, Flavius. "xx.7.2". Jewish Antiquities. Also known to have been mentioned in a section now lost.
  33. ^ a b Giacomelli, Lisetta; Perrotta, Annamaria; Scandone, Roberto; Scarpati, Claudio (September 2003). "The eruption of Vesuvius of 79 AD and its impact on human environment in Pompei" (PDF). Episodes. 26. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  34. ^ Soprintendenza archeologica di Pompei (2007). "Pompeii, Stories from an eruption: Herculaneum". The Field Museum of Natural History. Chicago. Archived from the original on March 18, 2009. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  35. ^ Valsecchi, Maria Cristina (November 2, 2010). "Pompeiians Flash-Heated to Death—'No Time to Suffocate'". National Geographic News.
  36. ^ Sigurðsson & Carey 2002, pp. 55–57.
  37. ^ Delphi Complete Works of Pliny the Younger, 2014, Volume 28 of Delphi Ancient Classics
  38. ^ Pliny the Younger. Letters 6.16 and 6.20 (Penguin, translated by B. Radice, notes by A. Futrell ed.). University of Arizona.
  39. ^ Berry, Joanne (2013). The Complete Pompeii. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd. p. 20. ISBN 978-0500290927.
  40. ^ "Pompeii's destruction date could be wrong". BBC News. October 16, 2018.
  41. ^ Josephus. Whitson, W., ed. Antiquities of the Jews. Tufts University Perseus archive.
  42. ^ Suetonius (1914). The Lives of the Twelve Caesars. Penelope. University of Chicago.
  43. ^ Dio (1925). Roman History, Book LXVI, section 21. Penelope. University of Chicago.
  44. ^ a b c Rolandi 2008
  45. ^ Abdy, Richard (2013). "The Last Coin in Pompeii: A Re-evaluation of the Coin Hoard from the House of the Golden Bracelet". The Numismatic Chronicle. 173: 79–83. JSTOR 43859727.


External links


79 may refer to:

79 (number)

one of the years 79 BC, AD 79, 1979, 2079

79 A.D., a 1962 historical epic film

Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79, a catastrophic volcanic eruption in Italy

AD 79

AD 79 (LXXIX) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Titus and Vespasianus (or, less frequently, year 832 Ab urbe condita). The denomination AD 79 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


'Annurca', pronounced in Italy [anˈnurka], also called 'Anurka', is a historically old cultivar of domesticated apple native to Southern Italy, It is believed to be the one mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, and in the 16th century by Gian Battista della Porta. However it was first mentioned by this name by Giuseppe Antonio Pasquale.Still today it is abundantly cultivated in Southern Italy, typically at the border between the Caserta and Benevento provinces, in the valley which is called the "queen of apples".

Cradle (bed)

A cradle is an infant bed which rocks but is non-mobile. It is distinct from a typical bassinet which is a basket-like container on free-standing legs with wheels. A carbonized cradle was found in the remains of Herculaneum left from the destruction of the city by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.

Curse of the Faceless Man

Curse of the Faceless Man is a 1958 independently made American low-budget black-and-white horror film, produced by Robert E. Kent, directed by Edward L. Cahn, that stars Richard Anderson, Elaine Edwards, Adele Mara, and Luis van Rooten. Science fiction writer Jerome Bixby wrote the screenplay. The film was theatrically released in the US by United Artists as a double feature with It! The Terror from Beyond Space.

The film's storyline concerns a Roman gladiator, buried alive in Pompeii during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, who returns to life in modern times to find the reincarnation of the woman he loves.

Erotic art in Pompeii and Herculaneum

Erotic art in Pompeii and Herculaneum has been both exhibited as art and censored as pornography. The Roman cities around the bay of Naples were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, thereby preserving their buildings and artifacts until extensive archaeological excavations began in the 18th century. These digs revealed the cities to be rich in erotic artifacts such as statues, frescoes, and household items decorated with sexual themes. The ubiquity of such imagery and items indicates that the treatment of sexuality in ancient Rome was more relaxed than current Western culture. (However, much of what might strike modern viewers as erotic imagery (e.g. oversized phalluses) could arguably be fertility imagery.) This clash of cultures led to a large number of erotic artifacts from Pompeii being locked away from the public for nearly 200 years.

In 1819, when King Francis I of Naples visited the Pompeii exhibition at the Naples National Archaeological Museum with his wife and daughter, he was embarrassed by the erotic artwork and ordered it to be locked away in a "secret cabinet", accessible only to "people of mature age and respected morals". Re-opened, closed, re-opened again and then closed again for nearly 100 years, the Secret Museum, Naples was briefly made accessible at the end of the 1960s (the time of the sexual revolution) and was finally re-opened for viewing in 2000. Minors are still only allowed entry to the once-secret cabinet in the presence of a guardian, or with written permission.

Escape from Pompeii

Escape from Pompeii is a shoot-the-chutes water attraction designed by Intamin located at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The attraction is based on the ancient city of Pompeii when it was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Guests board flat-bottom boats that advance through the attraction along a canal of water as if the volcano is alive once again. Special effects include swinging flickering lights, cracking wooden boards, burning walls and ceilings, and tumbling statues. At the end of the ride guests go through a misty dark room right before they go down the five story drop into the splash pool below.

The ride's fire elements were installed by the same company that made the fire elements for the movie Backdraft.

House of Julia Felix

The House of Julia Felix, also referred to as the praedia of Julia Felix, the Latin term for an estate, or land, is a large Roman villa in the ruined city of Pompeii located on the via dell' Abbondanza. It was the residence of Julia Felix, who converted portions of it to apartments, available for rent, under her ownership. The apartments became available and necessary for the residents of Pompeii after a major earthquake in 62 AD, a precursor to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, that destroyed the city of Pompeii. Archaeological excavations began in 1755 and the remains of the House of Julia Felix can be visited today in its original location in Pompeii.

House of the Centenary

The House of the Centenary (Italian Casa del Centenario, also known as the House of the Centenarian) was the house of a wealthy resident of Pompeii, preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The house was discovered in 1879, and was given its modern name to mark the 18th centenary of the disaster. Built in the mid-2nd century BC, it is among the largest houses in the city, with private baths, a nymphaeum, a fish pond (piscina), and two atria. The Centenary underwent a remodeling around 15 AD, at which time the bath complex and swimming pool were added. In the last years before the eruption, several rooms had been extensively redecorated with a number of paintings.Although the identity of the house's owner eludes certainty, arguments have been made for either Aulus Rustius Verus or Tiberius Claudius Verus, both local politicians.Among the varied paintings preserved in the House of the Centenary is the earliest known depiction of Vesuvius, as well as explicit erotic scenes in a room that may have been designed as a private "sex club".

House of the Tragic Poet

The House of the Tragic Poet (also called The Homeric House or The Iliadic House) is a Roman house in Pompeii, Italy dating to the 2nd century BCE. The house, or villa, is famous for its elaborate mosaic floors and frescoes depicting scenes from Greek mythology.

Discovered in November 1824 by the archaeologist Antonio Bonucci, the House of the Tragic Poet has interested scholars and writers for generations. Although the size of the house itself is in no way remarkable, its interior decorations are not only numerous but of the highest quality among other frescoes and mosaics from ancient Pompeii. Because of the mismatch between the size of the house and the quality of its decoration, much has been wondered about the lives of the homeowners. Unfortunately, little is known about the family members, who were likely killed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Traditionally, Pompeii is geographically broken up into nine regional areas, which are then further broken up into insular areas. The House of the Tragic Poet sat in Regio VI, Insula 8, the far-western part of Pompeii. The house faced the Via di Nola, one of Pompeii's largest streets that linked the forum and the Street of the Tombs. Across the Via di Nola from the House of the Tragic Poet sat the Forum Baths of Pompeii.

Nocera Superiore

Nocera Superiore (Neapolitan: Nucere) is a town and comune in the province of Salerno in the Campania region of south-western Italy.

Passage (Willis novel)

Passage is a science fiction novel by Connie Willis, published in 2001. The novel won the Locus Award for Best Novel in 2002, was shortlisted for the Nebula Award in 2001, and received nominations for the Hugo, Campbell, and Clarke Awards in 2002.Passage follows the efforts of Joanna Lander, a research psychologist, to understand the phenomenon of near-death experiences (or NDEs) by interviewing hospital patients after they are revived following clinical death. Her work with Dr. Richard Wright, a neurologist who has discovered a way to chemically induce an artificial NDE and conduct an "RIPT" brain scan during the experience, leads her to the discovery of the biological purpose of NDEs.

Science fiction scholar Gary K. Wolfe writes, "Willis tries something truly astonishing: without resorting to supernaturalism on the one hand or clinical reportage on the other, without forgoing her central metaphor, she seeks to lift the veil on what actually happens inside a dying mind." Through Lander's work, Dr. Wright is able to develop a medicine that brings patients back from clinical death.

The novel contains enlightening discussions of various disasters, including the RMS Titanic, the Hartford circus fire, the Hindenburg disaster, the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79, the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, the Boston Molasses Disaster, and, almost as prominently as the Titanic, the sinking of the USS Yorktown. (Willis has written extensively in several novels about events in World War II.)

Plinian eruption

Plinian eruptions or Vesuvian eruptions are volcanic eruptions marked by their similarity to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, which destroyed the ancient Roman cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. The eruption was described in a letter written by Pliny the Younger, after the death of his uncle Pliny the Elder.

Plinian/Vesuvian eruptions are marked by columns of volcanic debris and hot gases ejected high into the stratosphere, the second layer of Earth's atmosphere. The key characteristics are ejection of large amount of pumice and very powerful continuous gas-driven eruptions. According to the Volcanic Explosivity Index, Plinian eruptions have a VEI of 4, 5 or 6, sub-Plinian 3 or 4, and ultra-Plinian 6, 7 or 8.

Short eruptions can end in less than a day, but longer events can take several days or even months. The longer eruptions begin with production of clouds of volcanic ash, sometimes with pyroclastic surges. The amount of magma erupted can be so large that it depletes the magma chamber below, causing the top of the volcano to collapse, resulting in a caldera. Fine ash and pulverized pumice can deposit over large areas. Plinian eruptions are often accompanied by loud noises, such as those generated by the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa. The sudden discharge of electrical charges accumulated in the air around the ascending column of volcanic ashes also often causes lightning strikes as depicted by the English geologist George Julius Poulett Scrope in his painting of 1822.

The lava is usually rhyolitic and rich in silicates. Basaltic, low-silicate lavas are unusual for Plinian eruptions; the most recent basaltic example is the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera on New Zealand's North Island.

Pompeii (film)

Pompeii is a 2014 romantic historical disaster film produced and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. An international co-production between the United States, Germany and Canada, it is inspired by and based on the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. that destroyed Pompeii, a city of the Roman Empire. The film stars Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Carrie-Anne Moss, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, with Jared Harris, and Kiefer Sutherland.

Pompeii premiered in France, Belgium, and Russia on February 19, 2014, and was released over the course of the next day in Argentina, Greece, Hungary, Italy and later in the United States and Canada on February 21, 2014.This is FilmDistrict's last film before it merged with Focus Features.

Roman metallurgy

Metals and metal working had been known to the people of modern Italy since the Bronze Age. By 53 BCE, Rome had already expanded to control an immense expanse of the Mediterranean. This included nine provinces radiating from Italy to its islands, Spain, Macedonia, Africa, Asia Minor, Syria and Greece, and by the end of the Emperor Trajan's reign, the Roman Empire had grown further to encompass parts of Britain, Egypt, all of modern Germany west of the Rhine, Dacia, Noricum, Judea, Armenia, Illyria and Thrace (Shepard 1993). As the empire grew, so did its need for metals.

Central Italy itself was not rich in metal ores, leading to necessary trade networks in order to meet the demand for metal from the Republic. Early Italians had some access to metals in the northern regions of the peninsula in Tuscany and Cisalpine Gaul, as well as the islands Elba and Sardinia. With the conquest of Etruria in 275 BC and the subsequent acquisitions due to the Punic Wars, Rome had the ability to stretch further into Transalpine Gaul and Iberia, both areas rich in minerals. At the height of the Roman Empire, Rome exploited mineral resources from Tingitana in north western Africa to Egypt, Arabia to North Armenia, Galatia to Germania, and Britannia to Iberia, encompassing all of the Mediterranean coast. Britannia, Iberia, Dacia, and Noricum were of special significance, as they were very rich in deposits and became major sites of resource exploitation (Shepard, 1993).

There is evidence that after the middle years of the Empire there was a sudden and steep decline in mineral extraction. This was mirrored in other trades and industries.

One of the most important Roman sources of information is the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder who died in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Several books (XXXIII–XXXVII) of his encyclopedia cover metals and metal ores, their occurrence, importance and development.

Villa Boscoreale

Many Roman villas have been discovered in the district of Boscoreale, Italy. They were all buried and preserved by the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, along with Pompeii and Herculaneum. The only one visible in situ today is the Villa Regina, the others being reburied soon after their discovery. Nevertheless, among the most important finds from these others are the exquisite frescoes from the Villa of Publius Fannius Synistor and the sumptuous silver collection of the Villa della Pisanella, which are now displayed in several major museums, as are finds from the Villa del fondo Ippolito Zurlo. The name Villa Boscoreale is typically used for any one of these villas.

In Roman times this area was agricultural, specialising in wine and olive oil.Other Roman villas that were discovered in the vicinity, often by "treasure" hunters towards the end of the 19th century, and then reburied, include notably those:

in "d'Acunzo property"

of N. Popidius Florus, from which frescoes were taken

in via Casone Grotta (found in 1986)

of M. Livius Marcellus

of Fondus Priscus

of Asellius.Information on, and objects from, the villas can be seen in the nearby Antiquarium di Boscoreale.

Villa of the Mysteries

The Villa of the Mysteries (Italian: Villa dei Misteri) is a well-preserved suburban ancient Roman villa on the outskirts of Pompeii, southern Italy, famous for the series of exquisite frescos in one room, which are usually thought to show the initiation of a young woman into a Greco-Roman mystery cult. These are now among the best known of the relatively rare survivals of Ancient Roman painting. Like the rest of the Roman city of Pompeii, the villa was buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 and excavated from 1909 onwards (long after much of the main city). It is now a popular part of tourist visits to Pompeii, and forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Pompeii.

Excavations in 2018 have revealed important remains of horses in a stable near the villa.

Volcanic lightning

Volcanic lightning is a atmospheric electrical discharge caused by a volcanic eruption, rather than from an ordinary thunderstorm. Volcanic eruptions producing lightning can be colloquially referred to as a dirty thunderstorm, but this term technically only refers to ash-rich plumes interacting with weather systems containing ice. Volcanic lightning can occur entirely independently of any meteorological interactions.

The earliest recorded observations of volcanic lightning are from Pliny the Younger, describing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, “There was a most intense darkness rendered more appalling by the fitful gleam of torches at intervals obscured by the transient blaze of lightning.” The first studies of volcanic lightning were also conducted at Mount Vesuvius by Professor Palmieri who observed the eruptions of 1858, 1861, 1868, and 1872 from the Vesuvius Observatory. These eruptions often included lightning activity.Volcanic lightning arises from the ash, rock fragments, and other ejecta which generate static electricity within the volcanic plume. One study stated that “27-35% of eruptions are accompanied by lightning, assuming one eruption per year per volcano”, and indicated that volcanic lightning has been observed in 212 eruptions from 80 different volcanoes.A famous image of the phenomenon was photographed by Carlos Gutierrez and occurred in Chile above the Chaiten Volcano. It circulated widely on the internet. Another notable image of this phenomenon is "The Power of Nature", taken by Mexican photographer Sergio Tapiro in Colima, Mexico, which won third place (Nature category) in the 2016 World Press Photo Contest. Other instances have been reported above Alaska's Mount Augustine volcano, Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano and Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy.

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