Archaeologists in Italy have dug up an intact and richly decorated four-wheeled ceremonial chariot near the ruins of the Roman city of Pompeii, famously destroyed during the catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, BBC News reports. Archaeologists believe the float was likely used in festivities and parades – perhaps even for wedding rituals, like transporting the bride to her new home, given the erotic nature of some of the decorative designs.
The find is extraordinary both for its remarkable preservation and because it is a relatively rare object. “I was amazed,” Eric Poehler, professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, traffic expert in Pompeii, told NPR. “Many vehicles [previously discovered] are your station wagon or standard vehicle to take the kids to football. This is a Lamborghini. It is an outright luxury car. This is precisely the kind of find that we want to find in Pompeii, the really well articulated moments, very well preserved. “
Other archaeologists weighed in on Twitter. “My jaw is on the floor right now!” Jane Draycott tweeted from the University of Glasgow. “I’m still turning my head around the latest amazing discovery”, Sophie Hay from the University of Cambridge tweeted in a long thread about the surprising discovery. “The details are amazing.”
Like us Previously reported, the eruption from Vesuvius published thermal energy roughly equivalent to 100,000 times the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II, spewing molten rock, pumice and hot ashes on the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in particular. The vast majority of victims died of asphyxiation, suffocated to death by thick clouds of noxious gases and ash. But there is also evidence that the heat was so extreme in some places that it vaporized bodily fluids and explode the skulls of several inhabitants unable to flee in time.
The sudden eruption blanketed the remains of the city with a thick layer of ash, preserving many of the doomed city’s buildings and everyday ephemera – and the bodies of its former inhabitants. There have been several exciting archaeological finds among the ruins excavated in recent years. In December, for example, archaeologists unearthed a termopolium, or “hot drink counter,” which served ancient Roman street food – and plenty of wine – to residents of northeastern Pompeii in the days leading up to the eruption of Vesuvius. Painted bright yellow and decorated with detailed frescoes, the counter would have been a quick stop for hot, ready-to-eat food and drinks. And the little shop still contained the remains of its owner and possibly one of his last customers.
At the end of 2018, the remains of a horse – saddled and still in its harness –were discovered in a stable in the Villa of the Mysteries just outside the walls of Pompeii. Previous finds at the site include wine presses, ovens, and frescoes. The remains of two more horses were also discovered, although archaeologists were unable to make casts to preserve the scene due to damage from the looters. After the initial excavation of the site in the 20th century, it was re-buried for the sake of preservation. But the looters dug an elaborate network of tunnels around the area – going about 80 meters and more than 5 meters deep – to illegally access and remove artifacts.
The ceremonial chariot was found in the ruins of the two-level portico facing the stable where the remains of the horse were found in 2018. Archaeologists had carefully removed the charred wooden ceiling and determined that it had been built. made of oak, while the charred door had been made of beech wood. On January 7 of this year, archaeologists found an iron artifact in the volcanic material filling the portico, followed by the ceremonial float, which was remarkably well preserved, as the walls and ceiling of the room had collapsed. and that the looters had dug tunnels. on either side of it.
The archaeological team spent the following weeks meticulously digging up the find, making plaster casts of all the voids to preserve the imprint of any organic material that might have been there, including the handle and strings of the chariot. . The tank has since been transported to the laboratory of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii to complete its restoration.