NPR logo

Earlier Eruption Eclipses Destruction of Pompeii

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/5248565/5251225" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Earlier Eruption Eclipses Destruction of Pompeii

Environment

Earlier Eruption Eclipses Destruction of Pompeii

Earlier Eruption Eclipses Destruction of Pompeii

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/5248565/5251225" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Close-up of young woman buried by the Avellino eruption of San Paolo Belsito, near Nola, Italy. PNAS hide caption

toggle caption PNAS

Close-up of young woman buried by the Avellino eruption of San Paolo Belsito, near Nola, Italy.

PNAS

Footprints of two fugitives in surge ash deposit of the Avellino eruption suggest a mass exodus. PNAS hide caption

toggle caption PNAS

Footprints of two fugitives in surge ash deposit of the Avellino eruption suggest a mass exodus.

PNAS

The Italian city of Pompeii is one of the best-known reminders of how deadly volcanoes can be. Mt. Vesuvius' eruption in 79 A.D. buried the city, entombing many of the dead in casts of hardened ash that remain today. Now, scientists say the destruction was even worse in an earlier incident — a deadly day 4,000 years ago.

A group of scientists digging northwest of Vesuvius near Naples has found evidence that an enormous eruption during the Bronze Age covered the land almost 15 miles away from the volcano in hot ash and dust. The findings appear in the latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One village was practically petrified in ash, with utensils and pottery still intact. The scientists also found 4,000-year-old footprints of people and animals running away from the destruction.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.