January 19, 2021

Pompeii burned two months later | Culture

Pompeii burned two months later | Culture

The petrified corpses were too warm, wore woolen garments and long jackets that covered their bodies. There were braziers in the doors of the houses and some of the charred fruits did not correspond to the date of their harvest. Too many elements did not square with August 24, the date on which Vesuvius had officially erupted and buried Pompeii forever. There was not much more data, and it always ended up finding a justification that would forcefully fit the elements of that apocalyptic scene. The latest find on one of the walls of the houses that emerge from the new excavations in Pompeii has sent millions of history books back to the printing press. Vesuvius erupted in autumn, and not in summer as was believed.

A charcoal inscription discovered on the wall of a house has ended with doubts about the date of the most famous eruption in history. It was October 24, and not August 24 of the year 79 after Christ as it was held until now. Most manuals and history books were held until today based on a letter from Pliny the Younger sent to Tacitus. However, some experts already pointed out that the amanuensis monk who had to transcribe the letter in the Middle Ages – probably did not understand a word of what he copied – could have made some mistakes that anticipated two months the fateful date.

An archaeologist shows the inscription found.
An archaeologist shows the inscription found. EFE

The huge time machine that Pompeii has been for years contained a basic calculation error to travel to those days. But it has been corrected through the inscription on one of the walls of the houses that are emerging in the new excavations of the so-called Regio V. The charcoal scribble was dated on the "sixteenth day before the calends of November", that according to our current calendar would correspond to October 17. That is, a week before the terrible eruption. A time that, this time, would coincide with the discovery of charred fruits such as chestnuts, pomegranates or walnuts.

The director of the archaeological park of Pompeii, Massimo Osanna, has no doubts about the authenticity of the correction. "There were some voices pointing in this direction. But we never found such a strong test. We had doubts about some found objects or the fruits they carried. But they could also have been collected at other times for other uses. This is a decisive step. " The inscription was done in charcoal because the house was under construction and, presumably, the workers entertained themselves with the idea of ​​erasing it when the construction was finished. "Now many anomalies are explained, like the braziers for the fire that we found in some places and that, during time, it was said that they were used for other activities. But it was difficult and very strange. " So much so that yesterday until the Minister of Culture, Alberto Bonisoli, went to the archaeological park to celebrate it.

But the excitement of discoveries goes through neighborhoods. And Mary Beard, historian and expert in ancient Rome, 2016 Princess of Asturias Award and media star, responds to EL PAÍS in an email that is somewhat less enthusiastic than her colleagues. "The truth is that for a long time it was suspected that the eruption took place in October. This is a great extra clue, but in reality it only supports what was beginning to be and the standard view of the situation. " In short, a vision that should be corrected now in so many books, films and plays.


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