Archaeologists Discover A Military Horse That Perished At Pompeii And Use Plaster Casting To Recreate It

The remains of the horse that had been left behind in 79 AD after Mount Vesuvius erupted were found due to a vast labyrinth of illegal tunnels.

The remains of a 2,000-year-old military horse have been discovered in Pompeii.
Giorgio Cosulich / Getty Images

The remains of the horse that had been left behind in 79 AD after Mount Vesuvius erupted were found due to a vast labyrinth of illegal tunnels.

The remains of a 2,000-year-old military horse that perished in Pompeii after the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD have been recovered thanks to a vast labyrinth of illegal tunnels at the site that were once heavily in use by those who sought to profit from the many ancient artifacts left behind.

The “extraordinary” discovery of the horse that was found in the Italian suburb of Civita Giuliana has just been publicly announced, according to The Local, and it is being reported that archaeologists have also uncovered the fragile remains of a stable and trough.

Looking at the skeletal remains of the 2,000-year-old horse, archaeologists were able to deduce that it would probably have been a fully grown adult at the time of its death, with measurements taken showing the Pompeii horse would have been quite large for a horse during this era, standing at roughly 150 centimeters up to its shoulder blades.

Its harness was constructed out of bronze and iron, and traces of it were found to still linger around the animal. The materials used for the harness clearly show that this would have been considered a very special horse at the time.

Even though the remains of other animals such as mules and donkeys have been discovered at Pompeii, this marks the very first time that a full skeleton of a horse has ever been found at the site.

Because of this amazing discovery, archaeologists were able to use plaster casting, which they have also done with other animals as well as humans, so that they could recreate the distinct shape of the horse once again.

As the Pompeii horse no longer has any muscles or bones, the plaster that was poured over the remains acted as a sort of filler, something that Culture Minister Dario Franceschini has hailed as “extraordinary,” according to the Daily Mail.

Besides the 2,000-year-old horse, archaeologists also found the body of a 40- to 55-year-old man nearby, which researchers believe shows that humans continued to make Pompeii their home even after the deadly eruption of Mount Vesuvius, according to Professor Osanna.

“This is a sign that people continued to grow crops and live here even after the eruption, producing on top of the layer of ash and stone that covered and destroyed the entire city.”

With the death of around 16,000 people in Pompeii in 79 AD, more and more remains such as this 2,000-year-old military horse keep being discovered, and science is helping to keep the memories of these humans and animals very much alive by using plaster casting to recreate them.