The great city of Pompeii in Italy is the hotspot for the latest excavation of an ancient fast-food counter. The shop was engulfed by a volcanic eruption from Mount Vesuvius in AD79 almost 2000 years ago. The food counter known as a thermopolium, served hot meals and drinks to Roman customers and served the equivalent to modern day street food. Massimo Ossana, director of the Pompeii archaeological park told Reuters that it was the first time an entire thermopolium has been excavated and called it an “extraordinary find.” He stated that the shop will be open to public viewing in 2021.
Among the valuables unearthed, archaeologists found well preserved treasures such as frescoes, terracotta jars, drinking bowls, wine flasks and a bronze ladle. Embedded in the counter were circular holes where earthenware jars were placed and used to store hot food. Inside the terracotta jars archaeologists found traces of 2000 year old food including duck bones, pork, fish, snails and beef. At the bottom of a wine container were traces of ground fava beans, which were reportedly added to wine for flavor and colour.
On the frontside of the counter were frescoed figures such as images of two upside down mallards, and brightly red painted rooster. The figures are said to represent the food that was sold at the thermopolium and as a way to advertise the menu. According to CBS News, another fresco on the front of the counter had a dog on a leash. On the frame of the painting was a scratched inscription of vulgar graffiti possibly carved by a prankster saying “Nicia Cinaede Cacator” which could have been a slur against the owner of the tavern.
The fascinating findings also included other fresco paintings on the side of the thermopolium which depicted protection. One was the figure of the undersea nymph Nereid riding a seahorse. The nymph was a goddess of the sea and the protector of sailors and fishermen who came to aid in time of distress. Another fresco was a painting of gladiators in combat.
BBC News reported that around a third of the ancient city has not yet been uncovered, and excavations from the Pompeii site in Italy continue to emerge.
Sources: ABC News; BBC News; CBS News; Reuters