Foods and Other Plant Material
While some scholars are now considering an autumnal dating instead of 24 August in the year 79 C.E.,  one of the discussions focuses on the harvest gatherings of fruits and other plant material found–at Pompeii and the surrounding Campanian area–which were trapped in time during the eruption. These would include items such as ‘pomegranate, chestnut, dry figs, raisin grape, pine cone, dates,’  among other things. For example, at Oplontis in the villa of L. Crassus Tertius, traces of autumnal fruit, such as grain residues from grapes were discovered.  Another indication from Oplontis leaning towards an autumnal date, many stalks with residue, from a harvest in progress, were discovered around the winepress of the country villa of Terzigno.  Though, there is some evidence which favors a summer eruption. At Herculaneum, nuts in large quantity, hulls, almonds, figs and other edible material were found. Ciarallo and Carolis indicate that the almonds mature at the end of August and that figs ripen at the end of the month as well. These things, among other details, favor a summer dating.  Although there seems to be a mixture of evidence from the fruits and various plant material, other evidences need to be investigated.
It is known that at Pompeii casts of the dead reveal evidence of wearing heavy clothing and fabrics at the time of the eruption; at Herculaneum a skeleton was found with a fur cap.  Could these discoveries favor an autumnal dating? Surely this would indicate that it was a time of year when it is cold and, therefore, people were wearing heavier clothing. This would hardly make sense with a hot summer day. On the surface, this seems to be a plausible case for an autumn time period, but one must further evaluate the circumstances. At the time of the eruption, falling debris of pumice and ash certainly would have caused inhabitants to take necessary safety precautions. In Letter 6.16, Pliny writes that his uncle and others tied cushions on their heads with sheets for protection against the falling pumice debris as they were fleeing from unsafe buildings (6.16.16). One can infer that others found with heavy clothing would have intended the same—such clothing for protection. However one views the circumstances, it seems the clothing evidence would be inconclusive whether it was a summer or autumnal eruption. On the one hand, if it was on a hot summer day in August, the circumstances of the eruption may have prompted the people to wear protective clothing. But on the other hand, if it was in the autumn, the heavy clothing could have been used for colder weather, for protection, or both.
Although these matters concerning fruits, plant material, and clothing all remain debatable for discussion, there is further evidence which may lead to more determinative support of an autumnal eruption. We’ll look at this in more detail next time!
 E.g., Pappalardo, Berry, Beard, Rolandi, Paone, Lascio, Stefani, and others.
 Rolandi et al., 94.
 Pappalardo, 211.
 Annamaria Ciarallo and Ernesto De Carolis, ‘La data dell’eruzione,’ Rivista di studi pompeiani 9 (1998): 65.
 Ibid., 67.
 Pappalardo, 211.