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Archaeologists find ancient chariot near Pompeii

Reuters and AP, March 1, 2021 7:00PM Kids News

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A detail of a large Roman four-wheel ceremonial chariot after it was discovered near Pompeii. Picture: AFP/Pompeii Archaeological Park media_cameraA detail of a large Roman four-wheel ceremonial chariot after it was discovered near Pompeii. Picture: AFP/Pompeii Archaeological Park

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Archaeologists have found a 2000-year-old chariot from a villa* on the outskirts of Pompeii, the city buried in the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD.

The almost perfectly preserved ancient Roman, four-wheel, ceremonial chariot or carriage made of iron, bronze and tin was found near the stables of a grand villa at Civita Giuliana, around 700m north of the walls of Pompeii. The carriage would also originally have had timber parts. The remains of three horses were previously found at the stables.

media_cameraDetail from the chariot. Picture: AFP/Pompeii Archaeological Park

Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site, said the carriage was the first of its kind discovered in the area. Previously, other vehicles used for transport and work had been found, but none for ceremonies.

“This is an extraordinary discovery that advances our understanding of the ancient world,” Professor Osanna said, adding that the carriage would have “accompanied festive moments for the community, (such as) parades and processions”. An example of when such a special carriage would be used was to carry a bride to their new home after her wedding.

The culture ministry called it “a unique find, without any precedent* in Italy”.

media_cameraDecorative detail from the side of the chariot. Picture: AFP/Pompeii Archaeological Park

The chariot was spared when the walls and roof of the structure it was in collapsed, and also survived looting* by modern-day antiquities* thieves, who had dug tunnels through to the site, grazing but not damaging the four-wheel cart, according to officials.

Pompeii, 23km southeast of Naples, was home to about 13,000 people when it was buried under ash, pumice* pebbles and dust when Mount Vesuvius erupted.

About two-thirds of the 66ha ancient town has been uncovered. The ruins were not discovered until the 16th century and organised excavations began in about 1750.

“Pompeii continues to amaze us with its discoveries and it will do so for many years, with 20ha still to be dug up,” said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.

Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

media_cameraArchaeologists unearthing the four-wheel ceremonial chariot. Picture: AFP/Pompeii Archaeological Park

GLOSSARY

  • villa: grand home
  • precedent: an earlier event seen as an example of something similar
  • looting: stealing
  • antiquities: ancient past, especially what is called the classical period, before the Middle Ages
  • pumice: light, porous volcanic rock

EXTRA READING

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Mount Etna’s spectacular volcanic eruption

What is at the centre of the Earth?

QUICK QUIZ

  1. Near which city was the carriage found?
  2. What was it made from?
  3. When did Mount Vesuvius erupt and bury the carriage?
  4. How would the carriage have been used?
  5. What would have pulled the carriage?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Sketch an Ancient Carriage
Draw a sketch incorporating elements from the carriage uncovered in Pompeii and your own thoughts on what the full carriage may have looked like.

Use the same materials as the one described in the article and the same detail but sketch the whole carriage as it may have looked in ancient times.

How does this discovery enhance our understanding of the ancient world?

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Visual Arts, History

2. Extension
The following sites are UNESCO World Heritage sites in Australia:

  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Kakadu National Park
  • Willandra Lakes Region
  • Lord Howe Island Group
  • Tasmanian Wilderness
  • Gondwana Rainforests of Australia 2
  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park 3
  • Wet Tropics of Queensland
  • Shark Bay, Western Australia
  • Fraser Island
  • Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh/Naracoorte)
  • Heard and McDonald Islands
  • Macquarie Island
  • Greater Blue Mountains Area
  • Purnululu National Park
  • Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Australian Convict Sites
  • Ningaloo Coast
  • Budj Bim Cultural Landscape

Choose 3 of these and describe their significance to Australian heritage.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, History

VCOP ACTIVITY
Adjectives
An adjective is a describing word. They are often found describing a noun. To start with look at the words before the nouns.

Search for all the adjectives you can find in the article

Did you find any repeat adjectives or are they all different?

Extension: Pick three of your favourite adjectives from the text and put them in your own sentences to show other ways to use them.

Have you used any in your writing?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What would you like to uncover at Pompeii?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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