Pompeii: Archeologists unearthed an ancient fast food restaurant in the city’s ruins

While the fast-food boom didn’t start in the U.S. until the early 20 century, Romans were apparently ordering food to go over 2,000 years ago.

According to SyFy, archaeologists recently finished excavating a remarkable thermopolium (hot food and drink shop) in the ruins of Pompeii, the city that was infamously buried in hot ash following the violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 B.C.

The snack bar was first discovered in 2019 and, according to The Associated Press, it’s the most complete thermopolium ever unearthed.

Massimo Osanna, director general of the Parco Archeologico di Pompei, said in a recent statement (via SyFy):

“Thermopolia … were widespread in the Roman world. … In Pompeii alone there are 80 thermopolia. … As well as being another insight into daily life at Pompeii, the possibilities for study of the newly discovered 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 restaurant’s counter was equipped with a series of deep terra cotta jars where hot foods would be served from, not unlike soup containers nestled into modern-day salad bars, according to The Associated Press.

The shop’s exterior was adorned with a colorful façade that displays fresco paintings of a nymph riding a seahorse, two ducks, a rooster and a dog on a leash, according to SyFy. The Associated Press reports that vulgar graffiti was discovered inscribed on the painting’s frame.

Archeologists also unearthed 2,000-year-old remains of duck, goats, pigs, fish and land snails at the bottom of containers left in the restaurant. According to SyFy, preliminary analyses indicate the fresco paintings may have depicted some of the restaurant’s menu.

The Archeological Park of Pompeii’s official Twitter account recently posted a series of images from the site. You can see the whole thread by clicking on the image below.

Thermopolium of Regio V, one of the snack bars at Pompeii, with an image of a Nereid riding a sea-horse, which had previously been partially excavated in 2019, re-emerges in its entirety, with other decorative still lifes, food residues, animal bones and victims of the eruption. pic.twitter.com/HYa7NbXvKp

— Pompeii Sites (@pompeii_sites) December 28, 2020