Researchers said Saturday they discovered a thermopolium, or frescoed fast food counter in Pompeii in an exceptional state of preservation.
The ornate snack counter, decorated with polychrome patterns and frozen with volcanic ash, was partially exhumed last year, but archaeologists expanded work on the site to reveal it in all its glory.
Pompeii was buried in a sea of boiling lava when the volcano erupted on nearby Vesuvius in AD 79, killing between 2,000 and 15,000 people.
However, archaeologists continue to make discoveries there.
Regio V’s Thermopolium at a busy intersection of Silver Wedding Street and Alley of Balconies was the equivalent of a Roman-era fast-food takeaway.
A fresco with the image of a Nereid nymph on a seahorse and gladiators in battle had previously been unearthed.
In the final stage of their work, archaeologists discovered a number of still life scenes, including depictions of animals believed to have been on the menu, particularly mallards and also a rooster to be served with wine or hot drinks.
The scientists were also able to gather valuable new information about the city’s gastronomic habits after the eruption that devoured Pompeii and the neighboring city of Herculaneum as they tried to flee, only to be engulfed by pyroclastic lava flows or hit by falling buildings.
The team found fragments of duck bones and the remains of pigs, goats, fish and snails in clay pots. Some of the ingredients had been cooked together rather than Roman-era paella.
Crushed fava beans, used to change the taste of wine, were found at the bottom of a glass.
Testimony of antiquity
“This thermopoly is not only a testimony to daily life in Pompeii, it also offers exceptional analytical capabilities, as it is the first time we have excavated an entire construction site,” said Massimo Osanna, General Director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park.
In addition to human remains, amphorae, a water tower and a well were found, including those of a man believed to be around 50 years old who was discovered near a cot.
“The counter appears to have been closed in a hurry and abandoned by its owners, but it is possible that someone, perhaps the oldest man, was left behind and perished in the first phase of the outbreak,” Osanna told Ansa News Agency.
Another person’s remains could either be that of an opportunistic thief or someone who fled the breakout and “was surprised by the burning fumes when he had his hand on the lid of the pot he had just opened,” added Osanna added.
Thermopolium – the word comes from the Greek “thermos” for hot and “poleo” for sale – was very popular in the Roman world. Pompeii alone had around 80.
Pompeii is the second most visited place in Italy after the Coliseum in Rome and attracted around four million tourists last year.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)