Archaeologists unearth Roman ceremonial carriage from villa in Pompeii

Archaeologists have unearthed a Roman chariot near Italy‘s buried city of Pompeii in a discovery that experts say has ‘no parallel’.

A ceremonial carriage was found at a villa close to the walls of ancient Pompeii, which was buried in a volcanic eruption in 79AD.

The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage made of iron, bronze and tin was found near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana, around 765 yards (700 metres) north of the walls of ancient Pompeii.

Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site, said the carriage was the first of its kind discovered in the area.

Archaeologists have unearthed a Roman ceremonial carriage from a villa close to the walls of ancient Pompeii, which was buried in a volcanic eruption in 79AD

Archaeologists have unearthed a Roman ceremonial carriage from a villa close to the walls of ancient Pompeii, which was buried in a volcanic eruption in 79AD

Archaeologists have unearthed a Roman ceremonial carriage from a villa close to the walls of ancient Pompeii, which was buried in a volcanic eruption in 79AD

The chariot was found inside the porch of the villa and can probably be identified as a pilentum, a transport vehicle used in the Roman world by the elites in ceremonial contexts

The chariot was found inside the porch of the villa and can probably be identified as a pilentum, a transport vehicle used in the Roman world by the elites in ceremonial contexts

The chariot was found inside the porch of the villa and can probably be identified as a pilentum, a transport vehicle used in the Roman world by the elites in ceremonial contexts

The four-wheeled chariot was excavated at a villa near the city and has been heralded as 'an exceptional discovery with no parallel in Italy'

The four-wheeled chariot was excavated at a villa near the city and has been heralded as 'an exceptional discovery with no parallel in Italy'

Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site, said the carriage was the first of its kind discovered in the area, which had so far yielded functional vehicles used for transport and work, but not for ceremonies

Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site, said the carriage was the first of its kind discovered in the area, which had so far yielded functional vehicles used for transport and work, but not for ceremonies

 The four-wheeled chariot was excavated at a villa near the city and has been heralded as ‘an exceptional discovery with no parallel in Italy’

The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage made of iron, bronze and tin was found near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana

The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage made of iron, bronze and tin was found near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana

The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage made of iron, bronze and tin was found near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana

Previous excavations have yielded functional vehicles used for transport and work, but not those used for ceremonies.

Osanna said: ‘This is an extraordinary discovery that advances our understanding of the ancient world.’ 

He added that the carriage would have ‘accompanied festive moments for the community, (such as) parades and processions’.

The culture ministry called it ‘a unique find, without any precedent in Italy’.

Previous excavations have yielded functional vehicles used for transport and work, but not those used for ceremonies

Previous excavations have yielded functional vehicles used for transport and work, but not those used for ceremonies

Previous excavations have yielded functional vehicles used for transport and work, but not those used for ceremonies

The carriage would have 'accompanied festive moments for the community, (such as) parades and processions' according to Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site

The carriage would have 'accompanied festive moments for the community, (such as) parades and processions' according to Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site

The chariot was discovered in a porch in front of a stable where, already in 2018, the remains of three equids, including a harnessed horse, had been found

The chariot was discovered in a porch in front of a stable where, already in 2018, the remains of three equids, including a harnessed horse, had been found

The chariot was discovered in a porch in front of a stable where, already in 2018, the remains of three equids, including a harnessed horse, had been found

Pompeii is one of Italy's most popular attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Pompeii is one of Italy's most popular attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Pompeii is one of Italy’s most popular attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Archeologists excavate the site where the carriage was found around 765 yards (700 metres) north of the walls of ancient Pompeii

Archeologists excavate the site where the carriage was found around 765 yards (700 metres) north of the walls of ancient Pompeii

Archeologists excavate the site where the carriage was found around 765 yards (700 metres) north of the walls of ancient Pompeii

Pompeii, 23 km (14 miles) southeast of Naples, was home to about 13,000 people when it was buried under ash, pumice pebbles and dust as it endured the force of an eruption equivalent to many atomic bombs.

About two-thirds of the 66-hectare (165-acre) ancient town has been uncovered. The ruins were not discovered until the 16th century and organised excavations began in about 1750.

‘Pompeii continues to amaze us with its discoveries and it will do so for many years, with 20 hectares still to be dug up,’ said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.

A rare documentation of Greco-Roman life, Pompeii is one of Italy’s most popular attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT VESUVIUS AND THE DESTRUCTION OF POMPEII?

What happened?  

Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year AD 79, burying the cities of Pompeii, Oplontis, and Stabiae under ashes and rock fragments, and the city of Herculaneum under a mudflow.  

Mount Vesuvius, on the west coast of Italy, is the only active volcano in continental Europe and is thought to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.  

Every single resident died instantly when the southern Italian town was hit by a 500°C pyroclastic hot surge.

Pyroclastic flows are a dense collection of hot gas and volcanic materials that flow down the side of an erupting volcano at high speed.

They are more dangerous than lava because they travel faster, at speeds of around 450mph (700 km/h), and at temperatures of 1,000°C.

An administrator and poet called Pliny the younger watched the disaster unfold from a distance. 

Letters describing what he saw were found in the 16th century.  

His writing suggests that the eruption caught the residents of Pompeii unaware.

Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year AD 79, burying the cities of Pompeii, Oplontis, and Stabiae under ashes and rock fragments, and the city of Herculaneum under a mudflow

Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year AD 79, burying the cities of Pompeii, Oplontis, and Stabiae under ashes and rock fragments, and the city of Herculaneum under a mudflow

Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year AD 79, burying the cities of Pompeii, Oplontis, and Stabiae under ashes and rock fragments, and the city of Herculaneum under a mudflow

He said that a column of smoke ‘like an umbrella pine’ rose from the volcano and made the towns around it as black as night.

People ran for their lives with torches, screaming and some wept as rain of ash and pumice fell for several hours.  

While the eruption lasted for around 24 hours, the first pyroclastic surges began at midnight, causing the volcano’s column to collapse.

An avalanche of hot ash, rock and poisonous gas rushed down the side of the volcano at 124mph (199kph), burying victims and remnants of everyday life.  

Hundreds of refugees sheltering in the vaulted arcades at the seaside in Herculaneum, clutching their jewellery and money, were killed instantly.

The Orto dei fuggiaschi (The garden of the Fugitives) shows the 13 bodies of victims who were buried by the ashes as they attempted to flee Pompeii during the 79 AD eruption of the Vesuvius volcano

The Orto dei fuggiaschi (The garden of the Fugitives) shows the 13 bodies of victims who were buried by the ashes as they attempted to flee Pompeii during the 79 AD eruption of the Vesuvius volcano

The Orto dei fuggiaschi (The garden of the Fugitives) shows the 13 bodies of victims who were buried by the ashes as they attempted to flee Pompeii during the 79 AD eruption of the Vesuvius volcano

As people fled Pompeii or hid in their homes, their bodies were covered by blankets of the surge.

While Pliny did not estimate how many people died, the event was said to be ‘exceptional’ and the number of deaths is thought to exceed 10,000.

What have they found?

This event ended the life of the cities but at the same time preserved them until rediscovery by archaeologists nearly 1700 years later.

The excavation of Pompeii, the industrial hub of the region and Herculaneum, a small beach resort, has given unparalleled insight into Roman life.

Archaeologists are continually uncovering more from the ash-covered city.

In May archaeologists uncovered an alleyway of grand houses, with balconies left mostly intact and still in their original hues.

A plaster cast of a dog, from the House of Orpheus, Pompeii, AD 79. Around 30,000 people are believed to have died in the chaos, with bodies still being discovered to this day

A plaster cast of a dog, from the House of Orpheus, Pompeii, AD 79. Around 30,000 people are believed to have died in the chaos, with bodies still being discovered to this day

A plaster cast of a dog, from the House of Orpheus, Pompeii, AD 79. Around 30,000 people are believed to have died in the chaos, with bodies still being discovered to this day

Some of the balconies even had amphorae – the conical-shaped terra cotta vases that were used to hold wine and oil in ancient Roman times.

The discovery has been hailed as a ‘complete novelty’ – and the Italian Culture Ministry hopes they can be restored and opened to the public.

Upper stores have seldom been found among the ruins of the ancient town, which was destroyed by an eruption of Vesuvius volcano and buried under up to six metres of ash and volcanic rubble.

Around 30,000 people are believed to have died in the chaos, with bodies still being discovered to this day. 

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