Archaeologists have found an unusual ancient-Roman ceremonial carriage in a villa near Pompeii, which was buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD.
Near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana, about 700 meters (yards) north of the walls of ancient Pompeii, a nearly perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage made of iron, bronze, and tin was discovered.
The carriage was the first of its kind discovered in the region, according to Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site, which had previously yielded usable vehicles used for transportation and work but not for ceremonies.
"This is an exceptional finding that advances our understanding of the ancient world," Osanna said, adding that the carriage would have "accompanied group festive moments, such as parades and processions."
The Ministry of Culture called it "a rare discovery in Italy, without any precedent."
Pompeii, located 23 kilometers (14 miles) southeast of Naples, was home to nearly 13,000 inhabitants when it was buried under ash, pumice pebbles, and dust as a result of an explosion with the force of several atomic bombs.
Around two-thirds of the ancient town's 66-hectare (165-acre) site has been found. Until the 16th century, the ruins were not identified and organized excavations started in about 1750.
"With its discoveries, Pompeii continues to amaze us and it will do so for many years, with 20 hectares yet to be dug up," Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said.
Pompeii, a rare record of Greco-Roman life, is one of the most famous attractions in Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.