The Italian Almanac

war chariot

Italian News - May 14

An ancient king's war chariot found in a tomb near Rome has helped rewrite the history of the Romans and their Sabine rivals. "This chariot is an exceptional find," said archaeologist Paola Santoro. "It shows that the city of Ereteum remained independent long after the Sixth Century BC. In other Sabine cities like Custumerium, conquered by the Romans, the custom of putting regal objects in king's tombs had died out by that time".

Santoro said her team had recovered all the metal parts of the bronze-and-iron decorated chariot and had used echo-soundings to trace the imprints of the long-decayed wooden parts. "This will enable us to reconstruct the whole chariot." The chariot, which accompanied the king on his last journey, was placed at the entrance to the tomb, the largest chamber tomb ever found in Italy.

Santoro's team have also found an Etruscan-style terracotta throne - "a metre high, worthy of the king's stature" - and four large bronze cauldrons with bull-hoof supports. The tomb was found in the main room in the three-room complex, next to a wall recess where a wooden coffin containing the king's ashes would have been placed.

Archaeological evidence of the Sabines has until now been extremely scarce and much of the stories about them have been considered legends - such as the famous Rape of the Sabines, in which Rome's first king Romulus sent an expedition to carry off Sabine women to provide wives for his desperately woman-short settlement on the Tiber.