Italian archaeologists made an “exceptional” find near Pompeii when they discovered an ancient chariot that was almost perfectly preserved. The four-wheeled chariot was made of iron, bronze, and tin.
The ceremonial chariot was found close to stables at an ancient villa in Civita Giuliana – approximately 700 meters (2,297 feet) from the walls of Pompeii. It’s amazing that the chariot was so well preserved since the city was buried by volcanic ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.
The high iron wheels of the chariot were connected to an advanced mechanical system. The body of the vehicle contained exquisite decorations with engraved bronze sheets, medallions depicting symbolic scenes, and painted wood panels.
Other vehicles have been discovered in the area that were used for work or transport, but this was the first one ever found for ceremonial purposes. Massimo Osanna, who is the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site, said, “This is an extraordinary discovery that advances our understanding of the ancient world,” adding, “What we have is a ceremonial chariot, probably the Pilentum referred to by some sources, which was employed not for everyday use or for agricultural transport, but to accompany community festivities, parades and processions.”
Officials stated that the chariot was so well preserved because it was protected from the collapsed roof and walls of the structure. Furthermore, looters and thieves dug tunnels through the site but didn’t damage the carriage. When police found the illegal tunnels back in 2017, that’s when they also discovered the villa. Then on January 7th of this year, a small portion of the chariot was visible underneath volcanic material that gathered up in the two-storey portico.
Interestingly, the chariot was found around the same area where two men were unearthed last year (they were believed to have been a wealthy man and his slave attempting to escape the eruption). The two men, who were lying next to each other on their backs, were found under a layer of gray ash that was at least 2 meters in depth (6.5 feet). Their remains were so well preserved that the type of clothes they were wearing when they died were still visible.
As of right now, approximately two-thirds of Pompeii has been uncovered, so archaeologists may find more incredible discoveries in the near future. Dario Franceschini, who is Italy’s culture minister, said it best by stating, “Pompeii continues to amaze us with its discoveries and it will do so for many years, with 20 hectares still to be dug up.”