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Pompeii: Vesuvius eruption may have been later than thought

Archaeologists in Italy have uncovered an inscription they say may show that the history books have been wrong for centuries.

Historians have long believed that Mount Vesuvius erupted on 24 August 79 AD, destroying the nearby Roman city of Pompeii.

But now, an inscription has been uncovered dated to mid-October - almost two months later.

Italy's culture minister labelled it "an extraordinary discovery."

"The new excavations demonstrate the exceptional skill of our country," Alberto Bonisoli said.

Historians have been able to date the eruption of Vesuvius with apparent certainty thanks to ancient writings that purported to share first-hand accounts.

They came from Pliny the Younger, an elite lawyer and author of ancient Rome, who wrote about the death of his even more famous uncle, Pliny the Elder.

"On the 24th of August, about one in the afternoon, my mother desired him to observe a cloud..." , a Roman senator and historian, about the events of that day.

According to his account, Pliny the Elder was then a fleet commander at Misenum - modern day Miseno - across the bay from Pompeii. He took a ship to stage a rescue for those in danger from the volcano.

But he did not return from the venture.

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