An ancient Italian takeaway is now revealing its secrets after being buried in a volcanic eruption 2,000 years ago.
“We can see what customers were eating on that terrible day,” said Pompeii Archaeological Park’s director, Massimo Osanna on Saturday, according to NPR. “The food remains show what was most popular with the common folk.”
We now know that working Italians grabbed hot food on the run two millennia ago in the same way we might pick up a burger, nasi lemak, KFC or dim sum these days.
A recently unearthed and beautifully decorated street food hawker stall in Pompeii reveal exactly what Italians were eating when ash and lava buried them as Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. The remains of two humans were found inside the stall, preserved by ash as they fell.
The discovery marks the first time a complete food hawker stall – known as a thermopolium – has been excavated at Pompeii, southeast of Naples, according to the New York Post.
A portion of the street cafe was discovered last year as part of an effort to shore up the ancient city’s crumbling ruins. Archaeologists uncovered a serving counter with wide holes containing deep vessels for hot food inserted in its top.
The counter is decorated with images of an undersea nymph astride a horse, and a dog on a leash. Images of ducks and chickens probably show what was on the menu that day, anthropologists say. Duck bone fragment were found in one of the containers along with remnants of goats, pigs, fish and snails.
A wine container held traces of ground fava beans, which were added to ancient wine for flavour and colouring, according to Pompeii anthropologist Valeria Amoretti.
As all big city street vendors worth their salt know, location is everything, and diggers say that this take-away seemed to have a good one, next to a small square with a fountain.
The researchers say this is only the beginning of the secrets the stall will reveal. More will be uncovered as the excavation continues and researchers run tests.