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2000 years old Roman-era food stall buried in volcanic ash unearthed in Pompeii in Italy

Pompeii was buried in a sea of boiling lava when the volcano on nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, killing between 2,000 and 15,000 people.

The Italian archaeologists have unearthed a 2,000 years old fast-food stall from the ashes in Pompeii, Italy. The researchers have dug out an ancient restaurant from the vast archaeological site in the city of Southern Italy, that could now give new clues about the snacking habits of the ancient Romans.

According to the reports, the Italian archaeologists who have been carrying out excavations at the ancient lost city of Pompeii on Saturday said that they had discovered a frescoed ‘thermopolium’ or fast-food counter in an exceptional state of preservation.

The ornate snack bar counter, decorated with polychrome patterns and frozen by volcanic ash, was partially taken off from the ground last year but archaeologists had continued their work on the site to reveal it in its full glory.

Pompeii was buried in a sea of boiling lava when the volcano on nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, killing between 2,000 and 15,000 people. The massive site that spreads over 44 hectares (110 acres) is what remains of one of the richest cities in the Roman empire.

The Thermopolium of Regio V, which is believed to have been present at a busy intersection of Silver Wedding Street and Alley of Balconies, was the Roman-era equivalent of a fast-food snack stall. The thermopolium was very popular in the Roman world. Pompeii alone had around 80 such stalls.

A fresco bearing an image of a Nereid nymph riding a seahorse and gladiators in combat has also been unearthed at the spot.

Remains of ancient food-stall in Pompeii/Image Source: Luigi Spina/AFP

The team has discovered duck bone fragments as well as the remains of pigs, goats, fish and snails in earthenware pots. Some of the ingredients had been cooked together like a Roman era paella. The excavators have found crushed fava beans, used to modify the taste of wine at a bottom of one jar.

Reportedly, the food stall appears to have been closed in a hurry and abandoned by its owners, believed to be after the first rumblings of the eruption were felt, said Massimo Osanna, director general at the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.

A fresco depicting a nymph riding a horse had been discovered previously. Photograph: Luigi Spina/AP

Alongside human remains, amphorae, a water tower and a fountain were found. The remains of a man believed to have been aged around 50 has also been discovered near a child’s bed.

“It is possible that someone, perhaps the oldest man, stayed behind and perished during the first phase of the eruption,” Osanna said. The remains of another person were also found and could be an opportunist thief or someone fleeing the eruption who was “surprised by the burning vapours just as he had his hand on the lid of the pot that he had just opened”, he added.

The archaeologists, in the latest stage of their work, have excavated a number of still life scenes, including depictions of animals believed to have been on the menu, notably mallard ducks and a rooster, for serving up with wine or hot beverages.

Pompeii is Italy’s second most visited site after the Colisseum in Rome and last year attracted around four million tourists.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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