Archaeologists in Pompeii Just Discovered the "Lamborghini of Chariots"

According to the archaeological powerhouse behind the ongoing Pompeii excavations, an elaborately adorned ceremonial chariot—a sick sled experts dubbed “the Lamborghini of chariots”—was recently unearthed from the ash-covered ruins. This just reminds us how good you supercar kids have it these days. Blasting your eyes with the latest and greatest mega-wedge is just a few swipes away on Instagram, and if you live near any metropolis sprawl, your local Cars and Coffee attracts enough haute metal to fill the parking lot at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium. Spoiled rotten!

Why, back in the ’70s, we had to trudge down the cobbled via to the local amphitheater in hopes of catching a glimpse of the newest superchariot. Crowds were impassable, the stone bleacher seating dangerously slick with olive oil, and the wine was usually skunked and nearly vinegar, but we didn’t care! We elbowed and pushed through the throng of plebeians to see the latest superchariot or even hyperchariot parading around the arena. You kiddos save the Instagram posts for later viewing, while we were forced to scribble some facsimile of the stunning ride before commissioning some cheap local artist to create a mosaic of this superchariot on our cubicula walls.

Wait, you thought we meant the 1970s? Typical modern generation. Try 70 AD.

Ah, the good old days. We haven’t seen a proper chariot race since the Fourth Crusade’s sack of Constantinople in 1204, and even that was a far cry from the visceral shows put on by the Western Roman Empire in its heyday. All of our frescoes and wax etchings have long been lost to the sands of time, so the recent chariot discovery in Pompeii brings a dusty tear to our eye.

According to the official Pompeii Archaeological Park, specialists unearthed this “extraordinary find” in the Civita Giuliana villa located beyond the walls to the north of Pompeii proper as part of an effort to subdue and prevent damage from illegal tunneling and artifact theft occurring in the area. The remarkably preserved iron vehicle sat in situ in a double-level portico not far removed from a nearby stable, both destroyed in the cataclysmic eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius around—the believed time of—79 AD.

Based on the partial excavation, experts determine this is a pilentum—a type of chariot used by Roman elites for ceremonial events. By chariot standards, this ride is “richly decorated” on both sides with engraved bronze trim and red-and-black painted wood panels. The rear of the chariot proudly wears a series of decorative bronze and tin medallions, each bearing the motif of various couples engaged in erotic scenes. So, think of this as the ancient equivalent of a chrome-wrapped Lamborghini in its bid for DEFCON 5 levels of attention-seeking.

The archaeological park says this chariot is “entirely unique in Italy, not only on account of its state of preservation, as we have not only individual decorations but the entire vehicle, but also because it is not a chariot used for the transport of agricultural products or the activities of daily life.” In other words, this isn’t a Roman-era Honda Accord.

As of this writing, the chariot is safely ensconced in the archaeological park’s laboratory, where work to clear the remaining debris and dirt is underway. When preservation work is completed, the “Lamborghini of chariots” will likely go on display at the park, so get your time-off request in ASAP.

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