Pompeii and Herculaneum are archeological sites in southern Italy. They are located near the Tyrrhenian coast, south of Naples. According to mainstream historiography, the towns were destroyed by the 79 AD large Plinian volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Europe's most active volcano.[W 1][W 2]
Anatoly Fomenko, a Russian mathematician and historical researcher had argued in his work “History, Fiction or Science?” in 2003 that the cities were destroyed much later, in 1600 or 1631.
Building on this hypothesis other researchers like Dipl.-Ing. (TU) Andreas Tschurilow in 2009, proposed the eruption of 1631 as date for the destruction of the cities.
In the rest of this page the different dates are investigated independently.
|Date of destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum|
|Type 3||Myth creation|
|Years||79 AD (allegedly)|
1631 (eruption Vesuvio)
|Dates||24 August or 24 October|
|Place||South of Naples|
Italy & Spanish Empire
|Perps||King Charles III of Spain,|
Maria Amalia of Saxony
Emmanuel Maurice (1700s)
|Podcasts||FAC 611 - Hidden Histories|
- 1 Timeline
- 2 I Evidence for destruction in 79
- 3 II Evidence against 79 destruction
- 4 III Evidence for the destruction event being the eruption of 1631
- 5 IV Using the actual finds to distinguish between the 2 dates
- 6 V Dubious claims in the established sources and not widely known reconstruction efforts
- 7 VI Discussion and implications
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Videos
- 11 Internet fora
- 12 Bibliography and further reading
- only 1 witness account of this eruption exists, that by Pliny the Younger (the origin of the term Plinian eruption) allegedly written in 96-106
- doesn't mention destructions of cities, only the death of his uncle, Piny the Elder
- First printed copy of "Natural history" by Pliny the Elder
- According to the "Augsburg book of miracles" allegedly produced between 1545 and 1552, Pliny the Elder died in a 1482 Vesuvius eruption.
- First printed copy of the letters of Pliny the Younger containing the account of the eruption that killed his uncle Pliny the Elder
- possibly first printed copy of "The twelve Caesars" by Suetonis Tranquillus mentioning a big eruption of Vesuvius but no names of cities.
- Famous architect Domenico Fontana builds the Sarno Canal to bring water from the Sarno River to a gun powder factory. Allegedly he discovered the lost Pompeii and covered it up after he was finished. The depth of the water conduit is not very considerable with respect to the zero level of Pompeii and, with some exceptions, it always goes under streets, house walls, and carefully goes around more or less important facilities.
- "Heavy eruption of Vesuvius, featured on lots of drawings and in a few books"
- the account by Mascuoli (1633) about the eruption of Vesuvio in 1631 describe the destruction of Herculaneum and Pompey by some kind of flow
- he calls them “the cities once recovered from the ashes (he knew the earlier accounts)
- Ruins discovered by accident in 1709 later it is claimed to be Herculaneum
- Under direction of Giuseppe Fiorelli, the director of the excavations, the first plaster casts are made in Pompeii, allegedly reconstructing the bodies by pouring plaster in air pockets that where left by human (or animal) remains.
- Russian mathemathician Anatoly T. Fomenko in his book: "The Issue with Chronology" casts serious doubts on the dating of the ruins writing that "Pompeii might have been destroyed and buried by ashes during the well-known eruption of the Vesuvius that occurred in 1500 or even by the eruption of 1631.
- Dipl.-Ing. (TU) Andreas Tschurilow, Deggendorf, Bavaria, Germany publishes a book "Features of the Domenico Fontana’s Water Conduit (the Canal of Count Sarno) and the Date of Pompeii Destruction" arguing for a destruction date of 1631[R 1] Features of the Domenico Fontana’s Water Conduit (the Canal of Count Sarno) and the Date of Pompeii Destruction ]</ref>
- World news: A charcoal message found in Pompeii forces the scientific community to reconsider the date of the eruption ....to one month later 10/24/79
I Evidence for destruction in 79
There have been many eruptions of the Vesuvius that could have caused the burial of the cities that were found. Why do the early excavators thought it happened in 79? Because it is was assumed that in 79 AD cities were destroyed by an Vesuvius eruption, based on historical texts.
Pliny the Younger
He is considered an eyewitness of the eruption at age 18. Afterwards he wrote 2 letters to the historian Tacitus describing the eruption and the death of his uncle Pliny the Elder. Based on his description, today the term "Plinian" or "Vesuvian" is used to describe a volcanic eruption that is marked by columns of volcanic debris and hot gases ejected high into the stratosphere.
His uncle decides to investigate the eruption but after receiving a note for help he sets out for a heroic rescue mission. Pliny gives no information on the fate of the cities, not even mentioning one death beside his uncles.
Only a date is recorded and not the year but it is inferred from other sources that it happened in 79 AD and that the letters are written in 96-109, so at least 17 years after the event.
The letters are first printed in 1508.
According to the "Augsburg book of miracles" allegedly produced between 1545 and 1552, Pliny the Elder died in a 1482 Vesuvius eruption (see below).
Roman historians Dio Cassius and Suetonius
They both wrote about an eruption of the Vesuvius in the first year of the reign of Emperor Titus, from which the date for the eruption is inferred to be 79 AD. Neither of them give any sources. Only Dio Cassius gives details and writes (In Roman History, book 66) [R 2] : “an inconceivable quantity of ashes... buried two entire cities, Herculaneum and Pompeii, the latter place while its populace was seated in the theatre.“ (No bodies have been found buried in the theatre of Pompeii)
Both write about how the emperor commissioned ex-consuls to restore the damage. According to Suetonius “The estates of those who had perished by the eruption of Vesuvius, and who had left no heirs, he applied to the repair of the ruined cities.”
- Dio Cassius: "he restored all the damaged regions from funds already on hand"
- Suetonius, writing in 121 AD and Dio Cassius even later, must possibly have known if the cities were abandoned or not, but they don’t mention it.
Of book 66 of Dio Cassius however, the only one that names Pompeii and Herculaneum, according to Wikipedia "there remain only fragments and the meager abridgement of John Xiphilinus, a monk from the 11th century."[W 3]
- The historical texts that are still today taken as evidence for the dating of the destruction and subsequent abandonment of Pompeii and Herculaneum are not conclusive on this point.
- Only Dio Cassius names the cities, but this could have been added at a later date
- There is no reference in the texts of Dio Cassius and Suetonius to the letters of Pliny
- It is possible that these are different events, it is only trough the chronologies that the events are connected and dated to 79 AD
II Evidence against 79 destruction
Pompeii and Herculaneum marked on ancient maps
See also List of historical maps
This is acknowledged in wikipedia for the Peutinger map for which the oldest copy is dated to the 13h century.[W 4] The depiction of the allegedly destroyed cities is used as an argument that at least part of the map is based on a Roman map of 12 BC by Vipsanius Agrippa. The map was copied and revised multiple times because it shows Constantinople (founding dated 330 AD) and the prominence of Ravenna, seat of the Western Roman Empire from 402 to 476, but the destruction of the cities was never indicated.
What is ignored is that every other historical map that is available[M 1] up until the rediscovery of Herculaneum in 1709, also contains the city of Pompeii, indicated in the same way as other living cities, sometimes with a little drawing of buildings. A local map of the area published in 1514 shows both Herculaneum and Pompeii[R 3], while the maps of 1570, 1575 and 1603 only show Pompeii. The location of Pompeii is always similar to where it is now, on the west bank of the Sarno river, some distance from the sea. But not so similar that it looks they just copied older maps. Seneca:I don’t think the maps are accurate enough to help one discover the exact location of the towns, as some fakeologists suggest.
Canal of Count Sarno
From 1594-1600 the famous architect Domenico Fontana builds the Sarno Canal to bring water from the Sarno River to a gun powder factory. The first man, who at the end of the sixteenth century considered using the power of the river of Sarno for industrial purposes, was the richest and the most ill-starred Count of Sarno, Maurizio d’Estoutteville, who had French roots. The problem was that the river of Sarno, in its lower reaches, made loops, and leveled off with small drops in elevation. Therefore the water level was subject to seasonal variation. That is why d’Estoutteville decided to use the most northern of the three main sources of Sarno and to construct an artificial canal that should flawlessly bring water to Torre Annunziata, to the mills of the plant constructed by d’Estoutteville. The construction of the water conduit was entrusted to the architect Domenico Fontana.[R 1] Features of the Domenico Fontana’s Water Conduit (the Canal of Count Sarno) and the Date of Pompeii Destruction ]</ref>
The official story, mentioned on a sign on the archeological site is that Domenico Fontana discovered the lost Pompeii and covered it up after he was finished. The depth of the water conduit is not very considerable with respect to the zero level of Pompeii and, with some exceptions, it always goes under streets, house walls, and carefully goes around more or less important facilities. There were many places that gave access to the conduct, even inside the houses. Or stairs were built under the ground to the canal. (Seneca:some investigators use the word “well” but I avoid it because it has different meanings) All evidence points that it was built when there were still people living there. Probably the mills were also located in the city, otherwise it had made more sense to go past the city.
Proponents for the destruction date of 79 can argue that the canal that is now present in the excavated Pompei does not correspond to this canal but that it has been built by the Romans or the people before them. They would be in contradiction with the archeologists in charge of the site. Everything points in the direction that the archeologist excavating Pompeii don’t consider a lot of the features of the canal as ancient. "Wells" documented after the excavation were removed. Entrances to the canal are hidden. Photos from the access points or canal are not presented along with the rest of the ancient infrastructure. And on a sign in the area and on the website of the archeological site they stick to the story of Pompey being discovered and reburied during the construction of the canal:[M 2]
The XV century author Jacopo Sannazaro wrote: “We were approaching the town (Pompeii), and could already see its towers, houses, theatres and temples, untouched by the centuries ” (quoted in “The Book of Cosmas Indicopleustes. Published by V. S. Golyshenko and V. F. Doubrovina. RAS, the V. V. Vinogradov Institute of the Russian Language. Moscow, Indrik, 1997”, page 31).
More to come
III Evidence for the destruction event being the eruption of 1631
The proposed date of the eruption of 1631 would corroborate all the evidence in the preceding chapter. There is also evidence that points directly at this eruption as the cause of the destruction of the cities. These arguments are at the same time arguments against the dating of the destruction in 79.
In 1633, two years after the 1631 eruption, a book was published about the eruption” written by Giovanni Battista Masculi (Mascolo) an eyewitness. He writes about Herculaneum and Pompeii. Toward each of the cities ran down a “very quick fire flow. “(the cities once recovered from the ashes, I do not know if they will be alive again)...
In the accompanying illustrations/maps of the situation before and after the “fire” both cities are drawn as normal medieval cities, as well as Stabiae (which is presumed to have been destroyed at the same time.)[R 6]
On the way from Naples to Torre Annunziata, about 15 km away from Naples, there is a monument, a memorial or epitaph on the front of the Faraone Mennella's villa (Via Nazionale al N. 279) for the persons who died because of the eruption of Vesuvius in 1631. There is a Latin text with a list of damaged cities that contains Pompeii and Herculaneum, together with Octavianum, Reatina (Resina, now called Ercolano) and Porticus (Portici). It was ordered in 1635 by Manuel de Acevedo y Zúñiga, 6th count of Monterrey, Viceroy of Naples.
It is estimated that about 3000-6000 people died.[M 3]
Mentions of Pompeii and Herculaneum as living cities stop
If we would find any source that mentioned the cities as living cities between 1631 and the rediscovery around 1709 this would contradict both the 1631 and the 79 date. We found none.
According to the accounts of the discovery, the hill were Pompeii was found was called “La cività” which means city in Italian. The site now called Herculaneum was built over by the city of Resina (now called Ercolano).
IV Using the actual finds to distinguish between the 2 dates
So far we have not reviewed the actual finds that were done after the discovery of the cities. It would seem easy to see the difference between objects that were buried in 79 AD or 1631 AD, that is a 1552 year difference!
We have to keep some things in mind though:
- from the start, explorers and conservators had the 79 AD date in mind
- items have been destroyed or stolen
- some of the items have reconstructed
- items can have been forged
- dating methods like C-14 have been proven to be unreliable for such young dates'
- These excavations have been among the first and most important and have become a benchmark that is used to date other findings. So if we would use these other findings to compare them again we would be doing circular reasoning.
Three Graces Fresco
A fresco recovered in Pompeii, fits very well in a series of artworks of the Renaissance[M 4], especially: Francesco Cossa: Allegory of April: Triumph of Venus (detail) (1476-84) and Raffaello Sanzio: The Three Graces (1504-05) - Oil on panel In all three works, the women have almost the same posture. But it is sometimes suggested that these later works were inspired by ancient statues. In the Louvres of Paris there is an alleged Roman copy of a 2nd century AD after a Hellenistic original. It was restored in 1609 by Nicolas Cordier (the heads and hands). The origins of this statue are not documented. It also resembles a marble statue (without heads and hands) allegedly a Roman copy of a Greek work of the 2nd century, found in 1892 buried in Rome[M 5]
The surgical instruments found in Pompeii are considered to be evidence that Ancient Roman Medicine was very advanced.
The following quotes are all by Wayne F. Lorenz, president of Wright Water Engineers, Inc. a civil engineering firm based in Denver, Colorado. He is also director of Roman Aqueduct Studies at the Wright Paleohydrological Institute, a nonprofit research firm that studies how ancient peoples used water: [R 7]
"The design of ancient Roman water valves is remarkably similar to our modern plug valve design."
"What is remarkable is that these 2000-year-old valves are quite similar to water valves that can be purchased at local hardware stores today!"
"The valves were also very much alike in material composition. Copper, lead and tin were very important materials in the Roman metallurgical industry. They provided resistance to corrosion and friction and the ductility required for easy manufacture"
"The metal composition shown above for the ancient valves corresponds very closely to the modern ASTM B67 standard for journal bearings used in automobiles and railroad cars."
"One can marvel that the Roman valve design from more than 2,000 years ago is strikingly similar to our modern design."
There is a floor mosaic from the "house of the Ephebe" in Pompeii that shows a basket of fruit with figs, grapes, pomegranates, and something that very much resembles a pineapple.
Since pineapples (a New World crop) are supposed to only have been known after 1493, this gives more credibility to the 1631 date. The conventional explanation is that these are pine cones from Pinus pinea (also known as stone pine or umbrella pine). They are 8–15 centimeters (3.1–5.9 in) long and contain edible pine nuts. But we can clearly see leaves attached to them.[M 6]
Other explanations that are given is that this proves early transatlantic contact, it could also be a fake.
State of preservation
"Freshly fallen ash grains commonly have surface coatings of soluble components (salts) and/or moisture. These components can make ash mildly corrosive and potentially conductive. The soluble coatings are derived from the interactions in an eruption column between ash particles and volcanic-gas aerosols, which may be composed of sulphuric and hydrochloric acid droplets with absorbed halide salts. The amount of available aerosols varies greatly between eruptions of similar size and volume."[M 7]
Here the extra 1552 years also makes a lot of difference.
V Dubious claims in the established sources and not widely known reconstruction efforts
There are many claims either made by archeologists or that they don't debunk
See for more detail Plaster casts of Pompeii
In 1863 Giuseppe Fiorelli, the director of the excavations, came up with an ingenious idea for reconstructing the bodies by pouring plaster in air pockets that where left by human (or animal) remains. Even until 2018 new casts are still being made based on the same method.
Seneca:Any scientist who takes some time to look at the claims about how the cast are made from a critical stance will quickly see that they are an impossibility. This cast serious doubts on the credibility of everyone involved, especially the management of the Archaeological sites.
Ancient fish sauce used for dating
Seneca:This shows either that the archeologists think we are stupid or they are unscientific. In 2019 they have investigated bones of little fish that were inside a jar with ancient fish sauce (“garum”) found in Pompeii. They concluded that the fish were caught during the summer season or at the beginning of autumn. Since the fish are normally left to soak for about a month they infer when the eruption could have happened: “On the other hand, it’s also possible that the date could have been later than August 24th and possibly even into October if the fish were caught at the end of summer and left to soak for a month.”
“The analyses undertaken on the remains found in an amphora from the “garum shop” indicates that…… the picarels were not subject to any intense process of movement or compression that could have caused breakage at fragile points of the fish skeletons; it is therefore deduced that the product was still in the maceration stage awaiting the final process when the Pompeii destruction happened.” .[M 8]
Seneca:So the only reason that the fish (in just one amphora)could still be in the “maceration stage” was because the destruction of Pompeii happened before they could continue to prepare them after waiting a month. Apparently they have ruled out all other possibilities?? I am just suggesting one: maybe the owner was sick and he thought that he could leave them a little longer since he knew his product was so good that it would stay preserved anyway for 1900 years
However in 2018 it was announced that they now believe it was the 24th of October.
In the three centuries since the discovery they had found some good arguments that suggested that the eruption took place later in the year than August 24:
- based on the distribution of the different layers of ash, researchers believe that the wind was blowing from the east when Vesuvius erupted; yet easterlies don't typically blow in the Naples area during the summer
- warm clothing found on the victims and braziers in the housed with would only be necessary after summer
- the fact that autumn fruits like pomegranates and walnuts were found among the food stores
- jars of wine – made from grapes that don't usually ripen until late September – had already been set to ferment
- The only clue that spoke for an earlier dating was the presence of garum soup (see above)
- So what really made them change their minds in 2018? In a newly excavated area, inside a house there was found a description with the date 17 october. They think it is impossible that this writing could have survived 11 months “since it was done infragile and evanescent charcoal , which could not have been able to last long“.Seneca:So it lasted 1938 years while it was buried but it could not last 11 months inside a house????[M 9]
Seneca:The story was widely published. It looks like a fake story.
- Searching with Google for <pompeii charcoal "rewrite history"> gives 29.600 hits!
- The ancient texts used to prove the date of 79 can be interpreted to fit many dates, from 21 august to December in the case of Pliny. And in the case of Dio Cassius it can be “At the end of summer” or “at the end of autumn”. But in any case, the December 1631 dating respects all the evidence except for the garum fish soup evidence.
VI Discussion and implications
Seneca:As we see above it is not that easy to distinguish objects from 79 AD from those of 1631. This is in itself is quite remarkable and is a relatively unique situation. There is a vast amount of literature to explain the rapid rise in Roman art and technology, the long period of almost stagnation, followed by a resurgence of knowledge and art. A period where the best artists of the time would copy art from 1500 years earlier. A period where the brightest people would have discussions over works that were written 1500 years earlier.
The explanation is based on the fall of the Western Roman Empire around 476 BC, and perhaps the suppressive role of the Church and Islam. But the fall of the empire was a very local event if you consider it on a global scale, only affecting a few countries and not the entire Roman civilization. The most advanced part of that area, Italia, was not even that important for the production of knowledge, importing knowledge from places like Greece and Asia Minor, which remained part of the Byzantine Empire for quite some time. Even in the middle ages there was a lot of trade going on. And we see a lot of involvement of church people in science. If we place the ancient Romans and Greeks at the end of the Middle Ages Instead of before them, it all makes a lot more sense. This was argued by Nikolai Alexandrovich Morozov an later by Anatoly Fomenko supported by numerous arguments. As for Pompeii and Herculaneum, if the date of the destruction was in fact 1631, we should probably take a closer look at what is found there. A lot of reconstruction, forgery, errors have taken place which has to be taken into account. Was it common to worship these pagan deities at that time, so close to Rome? Or where the temples actually churches or did they have another function?
- Plaster casts of Pompeii
- FAC 611 - "Hidden Histories"
- Anatoly Fomenko
- Andreas Tschurilow (2009) Valvemagazine - Ancient Valves
- translation of Dio Cassus Roman History, book 66
- Leone, Ambrogio (1514) De Nola opusculum : distinctum, plenum, clarum, doctum, pulcrum, verum, graue, varium, & utile
- Senatore et al., 2016, p.9
- Senatore et al., 2016, p.12
- Ioannis Baptistae Masculi Neapolitani(1633)De incendio vesuvi excitato XVII. Kal. Ianuar anno trigesimo primo saeculi decimo septimi - different free E-books available on Google books
- Valvemagazine - Ancient Valves
These are all videos that argue for a 1631 date of the destruction. Mostly based on the work of Dipl.-Ing. (TU) Andreas Tschurilow, who is featured in many of the videos.
- The Comeback of Pompeii (1/2) (18 jan. 2011)10:42
- The Comeback of Pompeii (2/2) (18 jan. 2011)13:31
- Pompeii Rediscovered (15 Nov. 2011) 29:18
- Pompeii - The Return (2 May 2013)12:44
- Classical Art Deception (Pompeii and Roman Paintings)(23 Mar. 2019)31:38
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