Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2122/4712
AuthorsDi Vito, M. A.* 
Zanella, E.* 
Gurioli, L.* 
Lanza, R.* 
Sulpizio, R.* 
Bishop, J.* 
Tema, E.* 
Boenzi, G.* 
Laforgia, E.* 
TitleThe Afragola settlement near Vesuvius, Italy: The destruction and abandonment of a Bronze Age village revealed by archaeology, volcanology and rock-magnetism
Issue Date2008
Series/Report no./(2008)
DOI10.1016/j.epsl.2008.11.006
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/2122/4712
Keywordspyroclastic density current
Bronze Age
magnetic fabric
deposition temperature
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.04. Geology::04.04.99. General or miscellaneous 
04. Solid Earth::04.04. Geology::04.04.10. Stratigraphy 
04. Solid Earth::04.05. Geomagnetism::04.05.99. General or miscellaneous 
04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.99. General or miscellaneous 
AbstractPublic works in progress in the Campanian plain north of Somma- ^ Vesuvius recently encountered the remains 15 of a prehistoric settlement close to the town of Afragola. Rescue excavations brought to light a Bronze Age 16 village partially destroyed and buried by pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) of the Vesuvian Pomici di 17 Avellino eruption (3. ^ 8 14C ka BP) and subsequently sealed by alluvial deposits. Volcanological and rock- 18 ^ magnetic investigations supplemented the excavations. 19 Careful comparison between volcanological and archaeological stratigraphies led to an understanding of the 20 timing of the damage the buildings suffered when they were struck by a series of PDCs. The first engulfed the 21 village, located some 15 km to the north of the inferred vent, and penetrated into the dwellings without 22 causing major damage. The buildings were able to withstand the weak dynamic pressure of the currents and 23 deviate their path, as shown by the magnetic fabric analyses. Some later collapsed under the load of the 24 deposits piled up by successive currents. Stepwise demagnetization of the thermal remanent magnetization 25 (TRM) carried by potsherds embedded in the deposits yields deposition temperatures in the order of 260– 26 ^ 320 °C, fully consistent with those derived from pottery and lithic fragments from other distal and proximal 27 sites. The fairly uniform temperature of the deposits is here ascribed to the lack of pervasive air entrainment 28 into the currents. This, in turn, resulted from the lack of major topographical obstacles along the flat plain. 29 The coupling of structural damage and sedimentological analyses indicates that the currents were not 30 destructive in the Afragola area, but TRM data indicate they were still hot enough to cause death or severe 31 injury to humans and animals. The successful escape of the entire population is apparent from the lack of 32 human remains and from thousands of human footprints on the surface of the deposits left by the first PDCs. 33 People were thus able to walk barefoot across the already emplaced deposits and escape the subsequent 34 PDCs. The rapid cooling of the deposits was probably due to both their thinness and heat dissipation due to 35 condensation of water vapour released in the mixture by magma–water interaction
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