Petrified Remains Of Horse In Harness Found Near Pompeii

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

Pompeii archaeological park head Massimo Osanna told Italian news agency ANSA that the villa belonged to a high-ranking military officer -- perhaps a general -- during ancient Roman times.

Osanna was quoted on Sunday as saying the remains of two or three other horses were also discovered.

The villa's terraces had views of the Bay of Naples and Capri island.

A tall horse, well-groomed with the saddle and the richly decorated bronze trimmings, is believed to have belonged to an high rank military magistrate. Image: AAP

The area was previously excavated during the early 1900s but later re-buried.

The volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroyed flourishing Pompeii, near present-day Naples, in 79 A.D.

Osanna said suffocating volcanic ash or boiling vapours killed the horses. He hopes the villa eventually will be open for public visits.

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An archaeologist inspects the remains of a horse skeleton in the Pompeii archaeological site. Image: AAP

Osanna's team uncovered another piece of history from the ancient Roman city in the spring -- the skeleton of a man crushed by an enormous stone while trying to flee the explosion of Mount Vesuvius.

"It was so clear, it was a skeleton without a head," Osanna said.

"A block, in the place where we expected the head and the head was not there.'"