Caught by Vesuvius


The remains of three horses, one tacked and ready to flee, were recovered from a villa outside the walls of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, buried in AD 79 by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Was his owner trying to flee? The horse that is largely intact was wearing a bronze-plated military saddle, carried a pack or bag, and was bridled. The horse was so well preserved, that researchers have been able to make a plaster cast.

Petrified horse from Pompeii“It’s a very important find because it’s is particularly rare,” Massimo Osanna, director of the Pompeii archaeological site, tells news agency ANSA. “The three horses, perhaps like the first which was discovered and analyzed, must have belonged to the ‘noblest breed’ of display animals, as indicated by their imposing size – likely the result of selective breeding – and the quality of their iron and bronze harnesses.”

The stable had been part of a prestigious estate known as the Villa of Mysteries.The excavation of the villa was intended to stop looters who had been tunneling into the site.

Horses were found in the stable area near the villa.
The horses were found in the stable near the villa. A second horse was tied in its stall.

The finds lend weight to the assessment that the property was an exceptional estate. The villa’s rooms were richly frescoed and well furnished. There were sumptuous sloping terraces overlooking the Gulf of Naples and Capri.

The lavish estate, known as the Villa of Mysteries, overlooked the sea. Its grounds were home to wine presses and frescoes, and the horse remains were found near “fragments of wooden and bronze trimmings,” the BBC reported. Once the site is fully excavated, it will be opened to the public.

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