A perfectly preserved Roman snack bar has been unearthed in Pompeii, complete with decorative paintings and even traces of ancient food residues and animal bones found in containers.
The 2,000-year-old snack bar would have served hot food and drinks to Pompeii’s lower classes, with traces of goat, fish and snails offering a little insight into what a Friday night takeaway in these times would have looked like.
Al fresco dining and drinking had been customary for Pompeii residents, and there are 80 such examples of ancient snack bars in the ruined city. However, archaeologists believe this the only bar where the counter decoration is still well preserved.
Decorations include a painting of a sea nymph riding a seahorse, as well as artworks showing a cockerel, a leashed dog and two mallard ducks.
As reported by La Prensa Latina, Interim Director General of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, Massimo Osanna, said:
As well as being another insight into daily life at Pompeii, the possibilities for study of this Thermopolium are exceptional, because for the first time an area of this type has been excavated in its entirety, and it has been possible to carry out all the analyses that today’s technology permits.
The materials which have been discovered have indeed been excavated and studied from all points of view by an interdisciplinary team composed of professionals in the fields of physical anthropology, archaeology, archaeobotany, archaeozoology, geology and volcanology.
The finds will be further analyzed in the laboratory, and in particular those remains found in the dolia (terracotta containers) of the counter are expected to yield exceptional data for informing an understanding of what was sold and what the diet was like.
Initial studies of the paintings suggest that, to some extent at least, they do indeed represent the produce which would have been sold at the counter. For example, a fragment of duck bone was discovered inside one container, matching up with the painting of the mallards.
The flooring of the snack bar was made up of waterproof terracotta and polychrome marble, with early archaeobotanical analysis identifying traces of deciduous oak, which is believed to have made up the structural element of the counter.
Archaeologists also came across various materials which had been used for storing and transporting food, including amphoras, a bronze container and jars, as well as a ceramic pot.