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Harnessed horse and saddle unearthed near Pompeii

New discoveries in Pompeii

Rome -- Archaeologists have unearthed 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.

Italy Pompeii Discovery
An archaeologist inspects the remains of a horse skeleton in the Pompeii archaeological site, Italy, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018.  Cesare Abbate / AP

The villa's terraces had views of the Bay of Naples and Capri island. 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 says suffocating volcanic ash or boiling vapors killed the horses. He hopes the villa eventually will be open for public visits.

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 Mt. 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.'"

The day Vesuvius blew its top