WATCH: Archaeologists uncover ancient street food shop in Pompeii
ROME: Archaeologists in Pompeii, the city buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD, have made the extraordinary find of a frescoed hot food and drinks shop that served up the ancient equivalent of street food to Roman passersby.
The store, known as a thermopoly, Latin for counter for hot drinks, was discovered in the Archaeological Park’s Region V site, which is not yet available to the public, and unveiled on Saturday.
Traces of nearly 2,000-year-old food were found in some of the deep-fried terracotta jugs with hot food that left the shopkeeper in a counter with circular holes.
The front of the counter was decorated with brightly colored frescoes, some of which depicted animals that were part of the ingredients in the food sold, such as a chicken and two ducks hanging upside down.
‘It’s an extraordinary find. This is the first time we’re digging up an entire thermopolium, ‘said Massimo Ossana, director of Pompeii Archaeological Park.
Archaeologists have also found a decorated bronze drinking bowl known as a patera, ceramic jars used for cooking stews and soups, wine bottles and amphorae.
Pompeii, 23 km (14 miles) southeast of Naples, was home to about 13,000 people when it was buried under ashes, pumice stones and dust, as it endured the force of an eruption equivalent to many atomic bombs.
“Our preliminary analyzes show that the figures drawn on the front of the counter at least in part represent the food and beverages sold there,” said Valeria Amoretti, an anthropologist at the site.
Amoretti said traces of pork, fish, snails and beef were found in the containers, a discovery she calls a ‘testimony to the wide variety of animal products used to prepare dishes’.
About two-thirds of the 66-hectare ancient city has been uncovered. The ruins were only discovered in the 16th century and organized excavations began around 1750.
Pompeii is a rare documentation of Greco-Roman life and is one of Italy’s most popular attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.