The AD 79 eruption of the Vesuvius severely affected the floodplain surrounding the ancient city of Pompeii, i.e. the Sarno River floodplain. The landscape was covered with volcaniclastic materials that destroyed the ecosystem but, at the same time, preserved the traces of former environmental conditions. This study provides—for the first time—a pollen sequence reconstructing the environmental evolution and the plant landscape of the Sarno floodplain between 900 and 750 cal BC and AD 79, i.e. before and during the foundation of the city, and during its life phases. Previous geomorphological studies revealed that the portion of the Sarno floodplain under the “Pompeii hill” was a freshwater backswamp with patchy inundated and dry areas. Palynology depicts a thin forest cover since the Early Iron Age, suggesting an open environment with a mosaic of vegetation types. The local presence of Mediterranean coastal shrubland, hygrophilous riverine forest and mesophilous plain forest is combined with the regional contribution of mountain vegetation through the sequence. Oscillations between inundated and wet ground characterized the studied area until the AD 79 eruption. Such a natural environment shows anthropogenic traits since pre-Roman times: pasturelands, cultivated fields and olive groves, which probably occupied drier soils. The most important change in the land use system was the introduction of cabbage cultivation in the fourth century BC and its intensification from the second century BC, when Roman influence grew. The presence of tree crops and of ornamental trees reveals the opulence of the Imperial age until the catastrophic eruption.

At the origins of Pompeii: the plant landscape of the Sarno River floodplain from the 1st millennium B.C. to the A.D. 79 eruption

Vignola Cristiano
;
Bonetto Jacopo;Mazza Michele;Nicosia Cristiano;
2021

Abstract

The AD 79 eruption of the Vesuvius severely affected the floodplain surrounding the ancient city of Pompeii, i.e. the Sarno River floodplain. The landscape was covered with volcaniclastic materials that destroyed the ecosystem but, at the same time, preserved the traces of former environmental conditions. This study provides—for the first time—a pollen sequence reconstructing the environmental evolution and the plant landscape of the Sarno floodplain between 900 and 750 cal BC and AD 79, i.e. before and during the foundation of the city, and during its life phases. Previous geomorphological studies revealed that the portion of the Sarno floodplain under the “Pompeii hill” was a freshwater backswamp with patchy inundated and dry areas. Palynology depicts a thin forest cover since the Early Iron Age, suggesting an open environment with a mosaic of vegetation types. The local presence of Mediterranean coastal shrubland, hygrophilous riverine forest and mesophilous plain forest is combined with the regional contribution of mountain vegetation through the sequence. Oscillations between inundated and wet ground characterized the studied area until the AD 79 eruption. Such a natural environment shows anthropogenic traits since pre-Roman times: pasturelands, cultivated fields and olive groves, which probably occupied drier soils. The most important change in the land use system was the introduction of cabbage cultivation in the fourth century BC and its intensification from the second century BC, when Roman influence grew. The presence of tree crops and of ornamental trees reveals the opulence of the Imperial age until the catastrophic eruption.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3394215
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