Archaeologists in Italy have uncovered the petrified remains of several horses in the stable of an ancient villa in a suburb of Pompeii, near the modern-day city of Naples.
Massimo Osanna told the Italian news agency ANSA that the horses were likely suffocated by volcanic ash or killed by boiling water vapors in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The eruption destroyed the bustling city of Pompeii and its sister city of Herculaneum, burying hundreds of people and animals in ash which preserved their remains.
Osanna said the remains of three or four horses were discovered. One of the animals was harnessed and workers also found a saddle richly decorated with bronze trimmings.
According to Osanna, the villa belonged to a high-ranking Roman military officer, possibly a general. He hopes the villa will eventually be opened for public tours.
The villa’s terraces had views of the Bay of Naples and Capri island. The area was previously excavated, during the early 1900s, but later re-buried.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.