The chariot is of one of several significant discoveries made in the same area outside the historical park following an investigation into an illegal dig.

“A large ceremonial chariot with four wheels, along with its iron components, beautiful bronze and tin decorations, mineralised wood remains and imprints of organic materials (from the ropes to the remains of floral decoration), has been discovered almost intact,” a statement issued by the archaeological park said.

“This is an exceptional discovery... it represents a unique find – which has no parallel in Italy thus far – in an excellent state of preservation.”

The chariot was unearthed in the portico stables where the remains of three horses were unearthed in 2018, including one still in its harness.

The excavation site is known as the Civita Giuliana, a suburban villa that lies just a few hundred metres north of the ancient city of Pompeii.

The excavation is part of a program aimed at fighting illegal activity in the area, including digging tunnels to reach artefacts that can be sold on illicit markets.

Looters missed the room where the chariot had laid for almost 2000 years, tunnelling by on both sides, the park’s statement said.

Archaeologists believe the chariot was used for festivities and parades, perhaps also to carry brides to their new homes.

The city of Pompeii was buried in boiling lava when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, killing between 2000 and 15,000 people.

Pompeii’s remarkably well-preserved remains have slowly been uncovered by teams of archaeological specialists.

“Pompeii continues to amaze us with its discoveries and it will do so for many years, with 20 hectares still to be dug up,” Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini, said.

Pompeii is Italy’s third most visited tourist site, drawing more than 3.9 million visitors in 2019.

The ancient city was closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, and only reopened on January 18.