Pliny the Younger reports that it was in the seventh hour after sunrise (right around noon) on August 24th of 79 CE that his mother pointed out to his uncle, Pliny the Elder, that “a cloud of unusual size and shape is appearing.” Pliny the Elder was then stationed at Misenum, serving as the commander of the Roman fleet there. In the hours that would follow, thousands would die in the wake of Vesuvius’ eruption, their bodies sealed beneath a mixture of ash, rocks and pumice. The popular fascination with Pompeii remains today and new digital efforts to map the continuing excavations within the city serve to reveal the daily life of the people and animals who lived and died in the shadow of Vesuvius. The letters of Pliny, the excavations in and around Pompeii, and volcanological evidence now allow us to reconstruct a timeline for the eruption.
Sarah Bond’s Fantastic Hour by Hour Reconstruction of the Eruption of Vesuvius (24 Aug, 79 CE)