Archaeologists Just Unearthed an Ancient Snack Bar at Pompeii

Claire Selvin for ARTNews
·2 min read

After two preserved human skeletons were uncovered at Pompeii in Italy last month, archaeologists have made another fascinating excavation at the ancient site. According to a report by the New York Times, the latest major finding in Pompeii is a street food stall—or a thermopolium—that dates to 79 C.E.

Decorated with painted images of a nymph, a rooster, ducks, and a dog on a leash, the snack bar was found along with what are likely the remains of snails, sheep, fish, and other foods on offer to passersby. It is among 80 other thermopolia unearthed at Pompeii, and researchers have learned about the eating and living habits of residents of the ancient city from excavations of such enterprises.

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The food stall had been partially studied and uncovered in 2019, with this most recent phase of the excavation revealing the frescoes of the animals butchered and sold. Massimo Osanna, director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, said in a statement that this thermopolium gives “another insight into daily life at Pompeii” and marks the “first time an area of this type has been excavated in its entirety.”

According to the Times, archaeologists have already determined that one vessel at the thermopolium contained wine, and they also found the skeleton of a mouse in the stall. The newspaper reports that the researchers will analyze the contents of two more jars uncovered at the thermopolium, though archaeologist Chiara Corbino said that they likely held two dishes with various meats.

“We will analyze the contents to determine the ingredients and better understand what kind of dish it was,” Corbino told the Times, adding that the food stall probably offered a stew with snails, fish, and sheep.

Though the archaeological site has been closed to visitors amid the pandemic, Osanna is reportedly planning on reopening Pompeii to the public by Easter of next year, depending on the state of the coronavirus pandemic.

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