The projects of social history, disaster studies, and archaeology deliberately tend to eschew consideration of events, focusing instead on processes and structures that unfold gradually over time. The eruption of the Somma-Vesuvius volcano in Campania, Italy, in 472 presents tangible markers of a specific moment, although the absence of local textual evidence and the strong hints of rapid re-exploitation of the rich and fertile soils of the region suggest that the scale of the disaster that it precipitated was limited. A perspective on the eruption informed by the concepts of risk and vulnerability demonstrates that the population of the Campanian Plain had different experiences of the eruption according to factors such as their location, the nature and robustness of their social and economic resources, and their mechanisms for accessing and exploiting power relationships.

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