Europe 79 AD: Agri Decumates
Following his reorganization of the eastern Roman provinces, Vespasian turned to securing the west. In 74 AD he began the settlement and fortification of the Agri Decumates—the part of Germania lying between the upper Rhine and Danube rivers. The colonization of this region would continue long after Vespasian’s death in 79 AD, with Roman expansion into the Agri Decumates only ending at around the time of the accession of Marcus Aurelius (161).
[Map dated to depict situation in Europe at the time of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum.]
? ?? 74–8 Mar 161 AD Agri Decumates▲
In 74 AD, under the Flavian dynasty, the Romans began fortifying and settling the Agri Decumates—the region of Upper Germania between the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers. The colonization effort was continued under the Antonines, being largely completed by the accession of Marcus Aurelius in 161.
75 AD Limes Tripolitanus▲
In 75 AD, under Vespasian, the Romans began constructing fortifications on the southern frontier of Africa Proconsularis, largely in response to the threat posed by the Garamantes. The Romans would continue to reinforce and extend these limes up into the 3rd century, helping protect the valuable province against raids from nomadic tribes.
75 AD Vespasian’s Caucasus Expedition▲
In 75 AD Vespasian dispatched a Roman legion, the Legio XII Fulminata, to the Caucasus, possibly to defend against the threat of the Alans. The troops built a fort at Harmozica in the Caucasian Kingdom of Iberia, before moving on to help secure neighboring Albania. They remained in Albania at least into the reign of Domitian (81–96), as attested by an inscription they left.
78–80 AD Parthian Civil War of 78–80▲
In 78 AD Shah Vologases I of Parthia died and was succeeded by his son Vologases II. The new shah was quickly challenged by his uncle—and the deceased shah’s brother—King Pacorus of Atropatene, who proclaimed himself Shah Pacorus II. The details of the civil war that followed are uncertain, but by 80 AD Pacorus II had defeated and deposed Vologases II.
23 Jun 79–13 Sep 81 AD Principate of Titus▲
In June 79 AD the Roman emperor Vespasian died and was immediately succeeded by his 39-year-old son Titus, who swiftly put an end to the treason laws which had plagued Roman politics since Augustus’ time. Establishing a reputation for generosity, he was attentive in his handling of both the eruption of Mt Vesuvius (October 79) and the 80 AD fire in Rome, as well as funding the elaborate inaugural games in the newly-completed Colosseum. Titus’ short reign ended in September 81, when he died of a fever.
24 Oct 79 AD Destruction of Pompeii▲
At 1 pm in October 79 AD, after 17 years of earthquakes and minor tremors, Mount Vesuvius violently erupted, blanketing all around it in ash and pumice; a second eruption occurred that night or early the next day, spewing flames and lava. The eruption buried the Roman settlements of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, and Stabiae and killed many thousands, including the famed naturalist Pliny the Elder.