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There’s new evidence for what happened to people who survived Vesuvius

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    The default assumption among the general populace is that everybody was wiped out. That's largely true for Herculaneum, where the city was destroyed in roughly two hours. Unless people managed to jump onto a ship in the harbor in the first ten minutes, they would have succumbed to the pyroclastic flows (fast-moving hot ash, lava fragments, and gases) that swept through and obliterated the town. If the ash didn't get them, the tsunami that developed in the wake of the eruption, and the accompanying earthquake (and aftershocks), would have done so.

    "But for Pompeii, it took three days for everything to be wiped out," said Tuck. "Anybody who left immediately, or who was out of town on business, survived." He assumed the survivors would skew heavily toward the richest denizens and was surprised to learn that the vast majority were women and freedmen. The latter made up a large proportion of the business class in the Roman world, with merchant warehouses and real estate holdings in the major harbor city of Puteoli, for example, so Tuck surmises they may have been traveling on business when Vesuvius erupted.