Archaeologists have discovered an ancient snack bar (fast food style business) in the ruins of the Roman city of Pompeii. The counter’s colorful frescoes have survived nearly 2,000 years under volcanic ash and pumice.
The Archaeological Park of Pompeii announced the find Friday and released several images of the well-preserved bar, or thermopolium. Researchers think the commercial space may once have served hot food.
The counter is adorned with two vibrant paintings. One features a nereid, or sea nymph, seated on a horse, while the other likely depicts a worker in a snack bar–type environment. Archaeologists likened this image to a modern shop sign advertising the nature of a business.
Several vessels known as amphorae discovered by the counter are very similar to those depicted in the fresco.
The site, located at the intersection of Vicolo delle Nozze d’Argento and Vicolo dei Balconi, the bar was discovered during excavations at the Regio V section of the archaeological site. Some eighty thermopolia have been discovered at Pompeii in the past.
“A thermopolium comes to light with its beautiful frescoed counter,” wrote University of Naples Federico II archaeologist Massimo Osanna in an Instagram post.
Alfonsina Russo, interim director of the archaeological park, said in a statement: "Even if structures like these are well known at Pompeii, discovering more of them—along with objects which went hand in hand with commercial and thus daily life—continue to transmit powerful emotions that transport us to those tragic moments of the eruption.” Nonetheless, he added, the ruins of Pompeii offered “unique insights into Roman civilization.”
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 BC. acted as a time capsule, preserving the ancient Roman city of Pompeii for thousands of years. The long-forgotten city and its neighbor, Herculaneum, were explored in excavations that began in the 18th century. In recent months archaeologists have unearthed frescoes, several human bodies and even the remains of a horse at the site. By Katherin Highnett