News & Opinion | May 29, 2018 5:00 am

Horses Trapped in Pompeii May Have Been Staged for Escape

Discovery in 2,000-year-old stable suggests the animals were prepped to flee an eruption.

Archaeologists recently discovered four horses trapped in the ashes of a suburban Pompeii villa. The horses perished in the villa’s stable during the sudden, volcanic eruption of Vesuvius that famously buried the Roman town. Two of the creatures were found harnessed, possibly in preparation to flee the disaster, but were instead hit by the lethal, pyroclastic flows that engulfed Pompeii and the surrounding area in the middle of the night during the summer of A.D. 79. One of the horses found are has been completely transformed into plaster, which is a first of its kind from Pompeii. When the volcano erupted, National Geographic explains, many of the town’s residents and animals collapsed and died in place because they inhaled the superheated poisonous gas and ash. Their bodies then left holes in the hardened ash layers, that archaeologists have been able to inject plaster into to gather more details about the dead. Scientists were able to make a complete cast of one of the horses.