A ceremonial carriage was found at the excavation of a villa from the era of the Roman Empire near Pompeii


During the excavation of an ancient Roman villa in the town of Civita Giuliana near Pompeii, archaeologists have discovered a richly decorated four-wheeled carriage. Opening message appeared February 27 on the site of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.

The cart is perfectly preserved, with the exception of organic elements that have decayed over two millennia – ropes, floral decorations, etc. But since they were imprinted in the ash, it turned out to be easy to restore their appearance. In addition, the method of plaster casting was used, introduced into the practice of excavations in Pompeii by Giuseppe Fiorelli, the director of the park in 1863-75. The voids in the soil from the disappeared organic objects are poured with gypsum mortar, receiving their bulk copies. At the end of last year, in this way it was possible receive casts of the two men who died in this villa.

The find was made under a high portico (covered gallery) of a large courtyard, not far from the stable, where the remains of three race horses were discovered two years earlier. A small (0.9×1.4 m) carriage on four high iron wheels was intended for two passengers. Along the long sides of the carriage body there are engraved bronze plates and wood panels in red and black. At the back, the wagon is adorned with bronze and pewter medallions fixed in the bronze upholstery of the body.

Found wagon represents Pylent (pilentum) – crew for ceremonial trips. According to the written sources, the pilents were often used by women, including priestesses. If we take into account the decoration of the carriage – medallions with satyrs and nymphs, as well as nails with images of cupids, then we can assume that it was used in a wedding ceremony. Director Pompey Massimo Osanna (Massimo Osanna) suggested that it could carry the bride to the groom’s house. He also noted that a carriage of a similar design was discovered about fifteen years ago in a burial mound in ancient Thrace in northern Greece. But on the territory of Italy such finds have not yet happened.

In addition to the carriage, archaeologists have found preserved ceiling beams of the portico roof and a door that led from the portico to the stable. Since the excavations are staffed by specialists from various disciplines, including paleobotanists, the initial assessment of the finds is carried out very quickly. It is already known that the walls of the carriage were made of ash, the decorative elements of the carriage and the door in the portico were made of beech, and the roof beams were made of English oak.

An ancient Roman villa a kilometer from the walls of ancient Pompeii was discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century, but remained unexcavated due to the fact that it is located on a private territory. In recent decades, its hidden underground part has become the object of secret robbery by “black diggers, who dug a whole system of tunnels for this purpose. In 2017, the local prosecutor’s office and cultural heritage protection authorities became interested in these “excavations”, and specialists from the Archaeological Park of Pompeii were invited for official excavations. Over the years, it has been possible to unearth a stable and part of an underground gallery – a cryptoportic.


Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by www.nkj.ru.

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