Pompeii dig uncovers secrets from unearthed fast-food restaurant
A supposed fast-food restaurant at Pompeii has been completely unearthed, helping to reveal dishes that might have been popular for the citizens of the ancient Roman city.
Massimo Osanna, the longtime chief of the Pompeii Archaeological Park, said on Saturday that while some 80 such fast-food eateries have been found at the site of the massive volcanic explosion, it is the first thermopolium to be completely unearthed.
A segment of a counter was partially dug up in 2019 during work to shore up Pompeii’s oft-crumbling ruins.
Since then, archeologists have revealed a multi-sided counter, with wide holes inserted into its top, which purportedly held deep vessels for hot foods. The counter boasts an image of an undersea nymph astride a horse. Images of two upside-down mallards and a rooster also brightened the eatery and likely served to advertise the menu.
Valeria Amoretti, a Pompeii staff anthropologist, said in a statement that initial analyses show how the images painted could represent the foods and beverages sold inside.
She noted that duck bone fragments were found in one of the containers, along with remains from goats, pigs, fish and snails.
“We know what they were eating that day,” said Osanna.
Amoretti said one surprise find was the complete skeleton of “an extremely small example” of an adult dog, whose height at shoulder level was about 8 to 10 inches. She said it is rare to find remains from ancient times of such small dogs and that such discoveries “attest to selective breeding in the Roman epoch to obtain this result.”
Also unearthed were a bronze ladle, nine amphorae, which were popular food containers in Roman times, a couple of flasks and a ceramic oil container.
Pompeii was destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which is near present-day Naples. Much of the ancient city still lies unexcavated. The site is one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions.
Human remains were also discovered in the excavation of the eatery.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.