In the ruined city of Pompeii, a recently discovered inscription surprised archaeologists and re-sets the date that until now had been ascribed to the violent eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius. According to graffiti found on a wall, the date of the fateful eruption that rained deadly volcanic ash and tephra on the ancient Romans occurred sometime after October 24 in the year 79 A.D. This is more than two months later than previously understood.

The small charcoal inscription amounts to just two dark lines scribbled on a wall by a now anonymous inhabitant of Pompeii used to do. According to Italian Minister of Culture Alberto Bonisoli, this "exceptional discovery" should put an end to the debate about the true date of the destructive eruption of Vesuvius. Historians have long thought that the volcano, which rises above the city of Naples, destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum (also known as Stabies) on August 24, 79 A.D.. However, the graffito found in a newly excavated area in the ancient city established that the disaster occured two months later. 

Undoubtedly scribbled by a worker while renovating a house, the inscription reads: "in [d] ulsit pro masumis esurit [ioni]" which can be translated as "He has become lame." The writer made certain to date the inscription: “XVI K Nov " which means "XVI (before) K (alendas) November, which means " the sixteenth day before the calends of November " or  October 17th. The date thus excludes the possibility of a summer eruption. Speculation that the disaster took place later than previously thought had riven the scientific community, which noted that archaeologists had questioned the accepted date of the eruption after having found traces of autumn fruit in the ruins. It is now that everyone agrees to set the date of the terrible eruption to 24 October 79.

"Today, with a great deal of humility, we must perhaps re-write the history books so as to reflect that the eruption occurred durin the second half of Octoer. Pompeii is the secondmost frequently visited arechaological site in Italy, where Rome's Colisseum is first. In 2017, approximately 3.4 million tourists visited Pompeii during the first 8 weeks of the year. 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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