Archeologists may have just discovered that the destruction of Pompeii happened at an entirely different time than they previously thought, thanks to some graffiti about somebody eating too much.
Quartz reported on the find:
The message, written in charcoal on the wall of the house, reads, “XVI K Nov in [d]ulsit pro masumis esurit [ions],” which roughly translates as “he over-indulged in food.” It was written on the wall of a house being renovated, suggesting it could have been scrawled by a builder midway through work. And, crucially, it adds a date: “XVI K Nov,” which refers to the 16th day before the first of November, or October 17, according to a statement from the archeological team behind the discovery, the Parco Archeologico di Pompei.
Apparently, this whole time, we’ve been working off a letter than Pliny the Younger wrote to Tacitus—twenty-five years later—to suggest the eruption happened August 24. Nor is this the first evidence uncovered that Pliny may have gotten the month wrong; archeologists have previously found “pomegranates, walnuts, and newly-harvested wine,” signs that it was actually autumn. The fact that the doodle was charcoal means it likely would have been written within a week of the eruption, or it would have worn off beforehand.
Even if it changes the date, this evidence does absolutely nothing to dispel the popular image that Pompeii was a nonstop party right up until the moment Vesuvius popped its top.