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A team of archaeologists working in Croatia has unearthed an ancient Roman chariot that was buried in ritual fashion along with two horses.
The fossilised remains were discovered in a large burial chamber that belonged to an 'extremely wealthy family' alongside the carriage that - presumably - the two horses would have once pulled.
The incredible find was made by the archaeologists from the City Museum Vinkovci and the Institute of Archaeology in Zagreb. They found the chariot - known in Roman times as a cisium - at the site called Jankovacka Dubrava, near to the village of Stari Jankovci in eastern Croatia.
The discovery represents an incredibly well-preserved example of how very rich Roman people would choose to enter - as they believed - the next life alongside their belongings and animals.
The museum curator Boris Kratofil explained that the burial, complete with a tumulus or burial mound, was unusual for the Romans in the south of the Pannonian Basin. Pannonia was a Roman province that encompassed a large area of what we now know as Eastern Europe.
Kratofil explained: "The custom is associated with extremely wealthy families who have played a prominent role in the administrative, social and economic life of the province of Pannonia."
The next job for the team of scientists is to ascertain how old the find is. They've so far estimated that it dates back to the third century AD.
Marko Dizdar, director of the Institute of Archaeology in the Croatian capital, added that the discovery is the only one of this kind to ever be found in the country.
He said: "After this comes a long process of restoration and conservation of the findings, but also a complete analysis of the findings.
"In a few years we will know a little more about the family whose members were buried in this area 1,800 years ago.
"We are more interested in the horses themselves, that is, whether they were bred here or came from other parts of the empire, which will tell us more about the importance and wealth of this family.
"We will achieve this through cooperation with domestic as well as numerous European institutions."
The Romans invaded and took over Croatia in 168 BC after driving out the native Illyrian people, pushing them back into what we now call Albania.
They continued to control the area until the Roman Empire started to crumble at around the 5th century AD.
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