‘A very rare find’: Archaeologists uncover remains of saddled horse near Pompeii

August 11, 2023

Military officer’s stable preserved under ash from eruption of Mount Vesuvius

Experts work on the remains of a horse in an ancient stable during the excavations. Photograph: Cesare Abbate/EPA

Archaeologists have unearthed the petrified remains of a harnessed horse and saddle in the stable of an ancient villa in a Pompeii suburb.

The Pompeii archaeological park’s head, Massimo Osanna, told the Italian news agency Ansa that the villa belonged to a high-ranking military officer, perhaps a general, in ancient Roman times.

The stable area is excavated. Photograph: Cesare Abbate/AP

Osanna was quoted on Sunday as saying that the remains of two or three other horses were also discovered. The villa’s terraces had views of the Bay of Naples and the island of Capri. The area was excavated during the early 1900s, but later reburied.

The volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroyed the flourishing city of Pompeii, near present-day Naples, in AD79. Osanna says suffocating volcanic ash or boiling vapours killed the horses. He hopes that the villa will eventually reopen for public visits.