THIS WEEK IN HISTORY: AUGUST 24, 79

Mount Vesuvius Destroys Towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum

Mount-VesuviusIt was August 24, 79 when Pompeii and the neighboring towns were totally destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Although the volcano was located about twelve miles north of Pompeii, the eruption was aided by strong winds which caused tons of fiery ash and pumice to rain down upon Pompeii and its neighboring towns.

Pliny the Younger, who was an eyewitness, described the event in letters he wrote. About 7 a.m., Pliny wrote how a dark cloud in the shape of a pine tree appeared above the summit of Mount Vesuvius. The volcano discharged “flashes of fire as vivid as lightning” and produced “darkness more profound than night.” Pliny described how a thick vapor covered the entire area. Pliny the Younger wrote hundreds of letters which described his life in Roman times. He later served as an imperial magistrate and was considered to be an honest and moderate man. He was associated with other famous writers and philosophers of that time period.

“Pompeii Destroyed by Vesuvius, August 24, 79 c.e.” Historic World Events. Detroit: Gale, 2012. World History in Context. Web.


Learn more about the excavation and preservation of Pompeii »

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