A large ceremonial chariot was discovered near Pompeii in Italy at the suburban villa of Civita Giuliana, the public prosecutor’s office of Torre Annunziata announced Feb. 27 along with the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.
The discovery was the culmination of work from an excavation project that began in 2017, the Archaeological Park of Pompeii said.
With bronze and tin decorations, iron components, all four wheels, and imprints of the ropes and the remains of floral decoration, it was discovered almost completely intact and in an excellent state of preservation, an official release announced. It was found near the 2018 discovery of three horses still in their harnesses that were covered in volcanic ash. (RELATED: Drain Workers Uncover Roman Baths In Jordan’s Capital)
“It is an extraordinary discovery for the advancement of our knowledge of the ancient world,” stated Massimo Osanna, outgoing director of the Archaeological Park. “At Pompeii vehicles used for transport have been found in the past, such as that of the House of Menander, or the two chariots discovered at Villa Arianna (one of which can be admired at the new Stabian Antiquarium), but nothing like the Civita Giuliana chariot.”
It was first discovered Jan. 7 when part of the chariot emerged from the ground of the remnants of volcanic material, which indicated the presence of a large buried item, according to the official release. Over a month later, the entire chariot was excavated. Experts were astonished it was still intact despite the destruction of the room that housed it, according to the website Pompeii Sites.
To add to the lore of the discovery, this chariot is the first of its kind discovered in Italy, according to Osanna.
“This type of chariot, which has never before emerged from Italian soil, bears comparison with finds uncovered around fifteen years ago inside a burial mound in Thrace, in northern Greece, near the Bulgarian border,” he said.
Pompeii is one of Italy’s top tourist attractions, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is famously known as the city that perished when Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered the city in ash nearly 2,000 years ago.
“If the entire operation had not been initiated courtesy of the synergy with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Torre Annunziata, with which a memorandum of understanding was signed in order to combat the criminal phenomena of looting archaeological sites and trafficking finds and works of art, we would have lost extraordinary testimonies which enhance our understanding of the ancient world,” Osanna said.
Recently, crime has been on the rise in the area as looters have plagued the villa by stealing artifacts, according to Pompeii Sites. The recent discovery of the chariot has led to increased security in the area.
“Pompeii continues to amaze with all of its discoveries, and it will continue to do so for many years yet, with twenty hectares still to be excavated,” said Minister of Culture Dario Francheschini. “But above all, it demonstrates that valorisation can occur, and tourists can be attracted from all over the world, whilst at the same time research, education and studies are being conducted, and a young director like Zuchtriegel will develop this commitment.”