We will soon know more about street food trends in Pompeii in 79
The discovery of a thermopolium, a sort of ancient “fast-food”, in Pompeii, could provide valuable information on the gastronomic habits of its inhabitants.
Did the ancient Pompeians eat local and seasonal? Or do they eat fat and heavy dishes? We may know more about the diet of the inhabitants of ancient Pompeii. At least on what they ate on the go, in the street. A thermopolium, a sort of street “fast-food” in ancient Rome, has indeed been unearthed in Pompeii, decorated with polychrome motifs and in an exceptional state of conservation, the site officials announced on Saturday.
The counter frozen by volcanic ash had been partly unearthed in 2019 but the work was extended to preserve the entire site as well as possible, located in a district that was very busy at the crossroads of the rue des Noces d'Argent and rue des Balcons.
Frescoes and remains
In addition to an already known fresco representing a Nereid (sea nymph) on a horse, the researchers found, painted in bright colors, animals, in particular poultry and mallard ducks that were to be consumed with wine or hot drinks.
And above all, scientists have found in the excavations of the table food reliefs that could provide valuable information on gastronomic habits in Pompé I at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius in the year 79. A fragment of duck bone, but also remains of pork, goat, fish, and snails were recovered from the terracotta pots. Several ingredients were cooked together, much like a paella.
At the bottom of a jar were found pounded beans, which were used to modify the taste of the wine.
A hasty closure
“In addition to being a testimony to daily life in Pompeii, the possibilities for analyzing this thermopolium are exceptional, because for the first time an entire environment has been unearthed”, rejoiced Massimo Osanna, general manager of the Pompeii archaeological park, cited in a press release.
Amphorae, a cistern, and a fountain, as well as human bones, were found nearby, including those of a man in his 50s near a crib.
“The stall appears to have been hastily closed and abandoned by its owners, but it is possible that someone, possibly the oldest man, remained and perished during the first phase of the eruption, in the collapse of the attic, ”explained Massimo Osanna in an interview with the Ansa agency.
The other body could be that of a thief or a starving fugitive "surprised by the fiery vapors with the lid of the jar he had just opened in his hand," he added.
Thermopolium (from the Greek "thermos" which means hot, and "pôléô" which means to sell) were very popular in the Roman world. Pompeii had 80 by itself.
Pompeii, buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, is the second most visited site in Italy after the Colosseum in Rome, with nearly four million visitors in 2019. Only a third of the site, which extends currently on 44 hectares not far from Naples, has been unearthed by archaeologists.