Pompeii excavations allows plaster cast to be taken of long-dead horse

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The plaster cast of the Pompeii horse. Photo: Parco Archeologico di Pompei
The plaster cast of the Pompeii horse. Photo: Parco Archeologico di Pompei

A haunting plaster cast of a horse buried in the volcanic eruption that covered the Italian town of Pompeii in 79AD has been created by researchers.

The study team injected liquid plaster into the space once occupied by the horse, enabling the cast to be created.

It is the latest of several extraordinary discoveries at the site of Pompeii by the state authority in charge of exploring and preserving the heritage of the town, which was tucked on the flank of Mount Vesuvius.

The Archaeological Park of Pompeii outlined its discoveries in the Civita Giuliana area, in the northern area outside the walls of Pompeii.

The discovery of clandestine underground tunnels led to further excavations.

Earlier this month, the archaeological park’s director general, Massimo Osanna, announced that the work had brought to light a series of service areas for a large, exceptionally well-preserved suburban villa.

Several artifacts were recovering, including amphorae, kitchen utensils, part of a wooden bed and a tomb which housed a human skeleton.

One of the rooms, a stable, yielded the remains of the horse, which allowed researchers to apply the same plaster techniques which have been used to eerily recreate other figures from the time of the eruption.

The horse had been a victim of the volcano’s ash and gas cloud.

It went down on its left side and died where it lay.

The horse would have stood just under 5 foot tall at its withers – small by today’s standards but quite large for nearly 2000 years ago.

Researchers also unearthed an iron harness with small bronze studs by the horse’s skull.

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