Investigators said Saturday they had discovered a thermopoly with frescoes or a fast food counter in an exceptional state of preservation in Pompeii.
The ornate snack bar, decorated with polychrome patterns and frozen by 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 on nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, killing between 2,000 and 15,000 people. However, archaeologists continue to make discoveries there.
Regio V’s Thermopolium at what was a busy intersection of Silver Wedding Street and Alley of Balconies was the Roman-era equivalent of a fast food sandwich stand.
Earlier a fresco had been unearthed with the image of a Nereid nymph mounted on a seahorse and gladiators in combat.
In the later stage of their work, archaeologists uncovered a number of still life scenes, including depictions of animals believed to be on the menu, particularly mallards and a rooster, to be served with wine or hot drinks.
Scientists were also able to gain valuable new information about gastronomic habits in the city dating back to the eruption, which engulfed Pompeii and the neighboring city of Herculaneum as they tried to flee only to be eaten by pyroclastic lava streams or hit by falling buildings. .
The team found fragments of duck bones, as well as remains of pigs, goats, fish and snails in clay pots. Some of the ingredients had been cooked together instead of being prepared separately like a paella from Roman times.
The ground beans, used to modify the taste of the wine, were found in the bottom of a jug.
“In addition to witnessing daily life in Pompeii, the possibilities for analysis offered by this thermopolis are exceptional because for the first time we have excavated a site in its entirety,” said Massimo Osanna, general director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park.
Amphoras, a water tower and a fountain were also found along with human remains, including those of a man believed to be in his 50s and discovered near a child’s bed.
“The counter appears to have been hastily closed and abandoned by its owners, but it is possible that someone, perhaps the oldest man, was left behind and died during the first phase of the eruption,” Osanna told the Ansa news agency.
The remains of another person may be that of an opportunistic thief or someone fleeing the eruption and who was “surprised by the fiery fumes just as he had his hand on the lid of the pot he had just opened,” added Osanna.
Thermopoly – the word comes from the Greek “thermo” for hot and “pennyroyal” for selling – was very popular in the Roman world. Pompeii alone was around 80.
Pompeii is the second most visited site in Italy after the Colosseum in Rome and last year it attracted around 1 million tourists.
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