Evidence of an Ancient Rescue Operation

It is impossible to tell with certainty if the skull described in the story belonged to Pliny the Elder. However, the evidence that he and his men were there remains strong given what archaeologists have discovered in their excavations. Read the article to learn more:

Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum

Vesuvius Remains Identified As Heroic Rescue Mission By Pliny The Elder

May 25, 2021 Charlotte Bond

Visitors to the abandoned settlements of Pompeii and Herculaneum might look at the remains of those who perished and wonder who they were and what they were doing in their final moments. Thanks to new analysis on two sets of remains, archeologists are tentatively able to identify two people who set out to assist the residents of Pompeii in their greatest hour of need.

Pompeii’s history

Not to be confused with the modern city of Pompei, the ancient city of Pompeii was located near Naples, in the Campania region of Italy. Although today the sea is 700 meters (2,300 feet) away from the settlement, when Pompeii was a thriving city, it was much closer to the coastline. It is generally thought that around 11,000–11,500 people lived there initially, growing to 20,000 by 79AD.

Pompeii stood at the base of Mount Vesuvius. In fact, it was built on a plateau that appeared following an earlier eruption of the volcano. The area of Campania often suffered minor earthquakes, so little notice was taken of the small earthquakes that took place in 79AD. But they were the precursor to a very deadly event.

Pliny the Younger was staying in a town about 18 miles away and witnessed the eruption of Mount Vesuvius from a distance. He wrote about his experiences 25 years later, giving historians great insight into the event. The rest of what we know has been pieced together through archeological studies.

While we have no exact date for when Vesuvius erupted, current thinking places it around October/November. First of all, small fissures in the mountainside formed and released smoke and ash. Then, around midday, the volcano violently erupted, sending a cloud of ash, smoke, cinders, and pieces of pumice spurting into the air.

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