Pompeii: Today in ... Or Not?

Earlier today, half of Twitter seemed to be tweeting about the eruption of Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii, which apparently happened "Today in AD 79" ...

Then Gareth Harney tweeted a link to his blog post last summer, pointing out that a coin found in 1974 cannot really be dated before the middle of September of that year ...

The Inconvenient Coin: Dating the Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum | ROMA INVICTA

It reminded me of a series of posts - here - by Pedar W. Foss about Pliny's letters describing the erruption of Vesuvius and ... this post in particular goes into the problems both in the dating in the literary records and the archaeological evidence which makes an eruption not earlier than September likely:

Translating Pliny’s letters about Vesuvius, pt. 4. A Strange Cloud � [quem dixere chaos]

Harney summarises the discussion very well:
Firstly, you may ask from where the traditional eruption date of 24th August originates? In a letter [6.16] to Tacitus (written 25 years after the event), our old friend Pliny the Younger describes the eruption that took place on “Nonum Kal September” or “the ninth day before the Kalends of September” i.e. August 24th. Yet these modern interpretations stem from questionable 16th Century translations, from authors who would have struggled to understand the dating conventions used in the original manuscripts. Manuscripts which in turn, may have been corrupted themselves. Even though ancient historian Cassius Dio directly states that the disaster took place “towards the end of the harvesting season” (the harvest began in October), a 1508 translation of Pliny’s letters settled on an August date for the disaster and the rest is history.

Sophie Hay tweeted this photo of the 'notice' about the coin, which I think dates to 2006:

The article by Greta Stafani is available as a PDF here:

I should make it clear that although the drawing looks very clear ... there are quite a few different interpretations of it, and some scholars have no problem with it having been in circulation in August.

There's also a summary on Blogging Pompeii - Blogging Pompeii: Date of the eruption, yet more proof! - of Anna Maria Ciarallo's argument for an August date contra Greta Stefani's earlier argument for a November date for the eruption of Vesuvius ...

Most archaeologists agree that although there is no real proof of Christians at Pompeii, there is evidence of Jews there. Kosher garum has been found, and this scratched graffito in IX.1.26, aka The House of Sodom and Gomorrah, would seem to reflect a Jew's view of the eruption of Vesuvius as divine punishment but ... since we don't know on which date Pompeii was destroyed I don't really 'buy' that theory that it was God's retribution for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (on the Ninth of Av) in August AD 70.

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