Archeologists in Pompeii, an ancient Roman city, discovered an incredibly well-preserved fast food restaurant complete with 2,000-year-old food remnants.
The so-called thermopolium, Latin word for a hot drink counter, was discovered in the archeological park’s northeaster Regio V site, which is not yet open to the public.
The new discovery will help reveal dishes that were popular for the citizens of Pompeii.
Pompeii Archeological Park’s longtime chief, Massimo Osanna said on Saturday that while some 80 such fast-foods have been found in Pompeii, it is the first time such a hot-food-drink eatery was completely unearthed.
“As well as bearing witness to daily life in Pompeii, the possibilities to analyze afforded by this thermopolium are exceptional because for the first time we have excavated a site in its entirety,” said Massimo Osanna.
It was in 2019 when a segment of the fast-food counter was partially dug up. Archeologists continued digging, revealing a multi-sided counter, with typical wide holes inserted into its top. The countertop held deep vessels for hot foods, not unlike soup containers nestled into modern-day salad bars.
Specialists are still analyzing the traces of nearly 2,000-year-old food, including remnants of pork, fish, goats, nails and beef. Duck bone fragments were also found. At the bottom of a wine container were traces of ground fava beans, which in ancient times were added to wine for flavor and to lighten its color.
Cooking utensil such as a bronze drinking bowl, ceramic jars and wine flasks were also found.
The eatery was decorated with brightly colored frescoes, some of which shows a chicken and two hanging mallard ducks, believed to have been depictions of animals that were on the menu.
Human remains, including those of a man believed to have been about 50, were also discovered nearby.
One surprise find was the complete skeleton of a dog. The discovery intrigued the excavators, since it wasn’t a “large, muscular dog like that painted on the counter but of an extremely small example” of an adult dog, whose height at shoulder level was 20-to-25 centimeters (8-to-10 inches), Amoretti said. It’s rather rare, Amoretti said, to find remains from ancient times of such small dogs, discoveries that “attest to selective breeding in the Roman epoch to obtain this result.”
Pompeii was destroyed and buried following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Much of the ancient city still lies unexcavated. Its ruins were first discovered in the 16th century, and has since then grabbed the attention of archeologists.
The site, which was home to around 13,000 people, is one of modern Italy’s most popular tourist attractions.