A charcoal inscription discovered on a wall of the archaeological ruins of Pompeii Tuesday suggested the ancient Roman city was buried by Mount Vesuvius' eruption in October of 79 AD, not August, as previously believed.
The inscription that has excited historians and archaeologists alike was presented Tuesday by the Pompeii Archaeological Park and is dated the 16th day before the calends of November - i.e. October 17, one week before the devastating eruption.
"It is an extraordinary discovery," said Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli. "The new excavations demonstrate the exceptional skill of our country," he added.
Up until now, there was a consensus, based on a letter from Pliny the Younger, a lawyer, magistrate and prolific letter-writer to Tacitus, a senator and historian of the Roman Empire, that the eruption took place on Aug. 24, 79 AD.
However, the new evidence suggests that the letter may have been subject to a mistranscription and in fact dated the eruption on Oct 24.
The discovery is the latest in a series of important finds made during recent excavations of the Regio V section of Pompeii.
The Regio V section spans around three kilometers (1.9 miles) and is the epicenter of impressive new discoveries including several buildings with large balconies, skeletons and more recently a house with multi-colored frescoes and a lararium – a shrine dedicated to Roman deities-.
Pompeii was an ancient Roman city near the modern city of Naples in south-west Italy.
The ancient city was obliterated and shrouded in a cloud of deadly gases, ash and molten rock following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which to this day is considered one of the most deadly eruptions in European history.