Pompeii: Ceremonial chariot discovered in ruins of settlement outside walls of ancient city

A ceremonial chariot, complete with bronze decorations and mineralised wood remains, has been discovered in the ruins of a settlement north of Pompeii.

The chariot is one of several important discoveries to be made in an area called Civita Giulian outside the walls of the ancient city near Naples in Italy.

The discoveries were made after an investigation into an illegal dig, officials at the archaeological site have said.

The chariot, which has elements, was parked in the portico of a stable where the remains of three horses were previously found.

The Archaeological Park of Pompeii called the chariot “an exceptional discovery” and said “it represents a unique find – which has no parallel in Italy thus far – in an excellent state of preservation”.

Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

The chariot was spared when the walls and roof of the structure it was in collapsed.

It also survived looting by modern-day antiquities thieves, who had dug tunnels through to the site, grazing but not damaging the four-wheeled cart, according to park officials.

The chariot was found on the grounds of what is one of the most significant ancient villas in the area around Vesuvius, with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea, on the outskirts of the ancient Roman city.

The skeletal remains of what are believed to have been a wealthy man and his male slave attempting to escape death were found in Civita Giulian last year.

The chariot’s first iron element emerged from the blanket of volcanic material filling the two-storey portico on 7 January.

Archaeologists believe the cart was used for festivities and parades, perhaps also to carry brides to their new homes.

While chariots for daily life or the transport of agricultural products have been previously found at Pompeii, officials said the new find is the first ceremonial chariot unearthed in its entirety.

The villa was discovered after police came across the illegal tunnels in 2017, officials said.

Two people who live in the houses atop the site are currently on trial for allegedly digging more than 80 metres of tunnels at the site.

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