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Pompeii - the fast food of the ancient Romans

Pompeii - the fast food of the ancient Romans
The recent excavations carried out in the archaeological area of Pompeii have brought to light a perfectly preserved "thermopolium". The thermopoly was a very popular place in Roman age where it was possible to buy ready-to-eat foods. It consisted of a room, often small, with a masonry counter in which terracotta amphorae (“dolia”) containing food were embedded. It probably had a similar function to modern fast food or street food. It was in fact the custom of the Pompeians to consume food and drink outside home. The counter found is, the only case among those of Pompeii, entirely painted. In particular there is the image of a sea nymph on horseback and still life scenes, with representations of animals, probably slaughtered and sold in the shop. Thermopolies were widespread in the Roman world and about eighty have been found in Pompeii, but none of these have a fully painted counter.
Given the exceptional nature of the decorations and in order to restore the place in its entirety, it was decided to complete the excavation of the entire environment. In the small square in front of the thermopoly, a cistern, a fountain and a tower for water distribution had already come to light in the past. The decorations on the counter represent the image of a Nereid on horseback in a marine environment and other animals, such as the two mallard ducks painted upside down, a rooster and a dog on a leash.
Amphorae placed in front of the counter and found at the time of excavation, probably served as a commercial sign
Pompei Outdoor
Human bones have also been found within the thermopoly. Other bone fragments, of the same animals intended for sale, were found inside the terracotta containers. These remains will be analyzed in the laboratory to understand what was being sold and what the diet was.
In addition, nine amphorae and other pantry and transport material were also found in the room. The floor, then, is made up of a layer of "cocciopesto" (terracotta fragments), in which fragments of polychrome marble have been inserted in some points.
Pompei and Vesuvio
This ante litteram fast food, located in the clearing at the intersection of Vicolo delle Nozze d'Argento and Vicolo dei Balconi, therefore served drinks and hot meals. What amazed the archaeologists the most is the discovery of traces of food inside the terracotta amphorae. This exceptional discovery will allow to broaden the knowledge on eating habits in Roman times. But what exactly did the inhabitants of Pompeii eat? The paintings in the room represent, at least in part, the food and drinks actually sold within the thermopoly. Among the paintings on the counter two mallard ducks are depicted, and in fact a duck bone fragment was found inside one of the containers, together with pig, sheep, fish and snails, testifying to the great variety of products used for the preparation of dishes.
Pompei Door
Pompeii will continue, with its excavations, to surprise us again. Together with its immense wonders, that life re-emerges that was not completely extinguished by the terrible eruption of 24 October 79 AD, and which, after two thousand years, gives us moments of daily conviviality, in one of the 80 thermopolies in the city.

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