Archaeologists have unearthed a Roman chariot near the buried Italian city of Pompeii in a discovery that experts say is “unparalleled”.
A ceremonial chariot was found at a villa near the walls of ancient Pompeii, which was buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD.
The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled cart made of iron, bronze, and tin was found near the stables of an ancient villa in Civita Giuliana, about 765 yards (700 meters) from the walls of ancient North Pompeii.
Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site, said the chariot was the first of its kind discovered in the area. Previous excavations have discovered functional vehicles used for transportation and work but no ceremonial vehicles.
“This is an extraordinary discovery that will advance our understanding of the ancient world,” Osanna said.
He added that the carriage will “accompany moments of celebration for the community, (such as) parades and processions.”
The Ministry of Culture called this “a unique discovery, unprecedented in Italy”. Pompeii, 23 kilometers (14 miles) southeast of Naples, was home to about 13,000 people when it was buried under ash, cobbles, and dust as it endured the force of an eruption equivalent to that of multiple atomic bombs.
About two-thirds of the 66-hectare (165-acre) ancient town has been explored. These ruins were not discovered until the 16th century, and organized excavations began around 1750.
“Pompeii continues to surprise us with its discoveries, and it will do so for many years to come, with 20 hectares still to be dug up,” Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said.
A rare document of Greco-Roman life, Pompeii is one of Italy’s most famous attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.