The chariot, discovered around the end of the eighteenth century, joined the Vatican collections in 1804, having been sold by Antonio Pazzaglia, a renowned carver of precious stones, who had carried out its restoration according to the logic of the antique market of the period, assembling original and heterogeneous parts by chronology and origin. The most recent restoration work, carried out in 1992, enabled the chariot to be reconstructed, starting from the few elements that are known to be original.
The wooden structure was reconstructed through the surviving fragments of the bronze casing and the study of similar vehicles found in excavations or represented on ancient objects from the same age. A prized example of bronze work is offered by the eagle-head tip at the end of the shaft, worked cold using a chisel and punch.
The possible location of its discovery is between the fifth and sixth mile of the Appian Way, in the area of the Villa dei Quintili, near the Cluilian Trench, the ditch that traditionally marked the boundary between the territory of Alba Longa and Rome, and the backdrop to the mythical battle between Horatius and Curiatius at time of Tullus Hostilius.
Detail of the eagle-head tip (Chariot 20829)
A fine example of ancient bronze work is given by the shaft tip in the form of an eagle’s head, reproduced in detail here. Technological and stylistic details would indicate that this protome, hypothetically attributed to a workshop in Chiusi, belongs to the ancient bronze-working tradition of inner Etruria, where there was a particular concentration of this type of prestigious item. It testifies to the marked influence of Greek-Oriental sculptural works, notably bronzes and shaped vessels, which certainly constituted a model for reference.