An Historical Quick Meals Restaurant in Pompeii That Served Honey-Roasted Rodents Is Now Open to the Public

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Archaeologists studying the Roman city of Pompeii recently discovered a Thermopolium – a type of ancient fast-food restaurant – and it’s now open to the public.

Visitors can’t sample the Roman delicacies that would have been served in the original restaurant – as this is a society who believed honey-roasted rodents in jars to be a delicacy – but they can see the eatery’s colorful fresco painting.

One work of art appears to show ingredients that would have been prepared in a thermopoly, such as a rooster, while another shows a scene from mythology in which a nereid rides a seahorse. A third shows a dog with a collar and graffiti from Roman times, which roughly translated means “Nicias Shameless Shitter”, probably an insult to the owner Nicias.

thermopolium with graffiti from Roman times on which it says “NICIA CINAEDE CACATOR”, which translates as “NICIAS SHAMELESS SHITTER”, probably an insult to the owner. Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park. “width =” 940 “height =” 1024 “srcset =” https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/image_9193_5e-Pompeii-Thermopolium-940×1024.jpeg 940w, https: // news .artnet.com / app / news-upload / 2021/08 / image_9193_5e-Pompeii-Thermopolium-275×300.jpeg 275w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/image_9193_5e-Pompeii- Thermopolium-46×50.jpeg 46w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/image_9193_5e-Pompeii-Thermopolium.jpeg 1500w “size =” (max-width: 940px) 100vw, 940px ” />

A fresco of a dog with a collar in a thermopoly with graffiti from Roman times. Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The 2019 discovery “led to a better understanding of the diet and daily life of the Pompeians,” Massimo Osanna, former director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park and now director general of Italian museums, said in a statement.

Experts believe that prepared food was presented in large Dolia glasses in holes in the stone counter, similar to today’s take-out restaurants.

The excavations uncovered duck, pork, goat and fish bones, as well as snail shells between potsherds, suggesting that some type of meat and seafood stew was on the menu. Typical dishes served in a thermopoly included salty fish, baked cheese, lentils, and flavorful wine, according to the Guardian. (One glass apparently still smelled strongly of wine when archaeologists discovered it.)

The food culture and culinary traditions of Pompeii are currently the subject of “Last Supper in Pompeii”, an exhibition in the Museum of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. The sudden destruction of the city by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 instantly charred food and cookware, leaving a record of daily life frozen in time.

The Thermopolium was an integral part of Pompeii – the newly discovered site is only one of 80 such restaurants found in the city – because poor Roman families could not afford kitchen facilities in their homes. And in a reversal of contemporary society, the rich did not go out for expensive meals. Instead, they had enslaved workers prepare banquets at home, which were served in ornate banquet halls.

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park

Archaeologists discovered the thermopoly during excavations in Regio V, a section of Pompeii that is not yet fully open to the public and where most of the active excavations have taken place since the 1960s. In addition to the restaurant, parts of the mansions Casa di Orione and Casa del Giardino will also be open to visitors this week.

Other recent finds from Region V include the skeleton of a man believed to have been killed while trying to escape the volcano and a selection of amulets that may have belonged to a sorceress. Human bones found in the new thermopolium suggest that the company’s owner may have died on the site.

See more pictures of the Thermopolium below.

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii.  Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The <em>thermopolium</em>, or fast food restaurant, from Regio V in Pompeii.  Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park “width =” 1024 “height =” 841 “srcset =” https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/pompeii-4-1024×841.jpeg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/pompeii-4-300×246.jpeg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08 / pompeii -4-50×41.jpeg 50w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/pompeii-4.jpeg 1163w “size =” (max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px “/></p>
<p class=The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii.  Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo by Luigi Spina, courtesy of the Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii.  Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii.  Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The <em>thermopolium</em>, or fast food restaurant, from Regio V in Pompeii.  Photo by Luigi Spina, courtesy of the Pompeii Archaeological Park. “Width =” 1024 “height =” 768 “srcset =” https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/merlin_181658634_aa79d832- b11b- 4019-a697-c88e45dacd32-superJumbo-1024×768.jpeg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/merlin_181658634_aa79d832-b11b-4019-a697-c88e45dacd32-s00w225, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/merlin_181658634_aa79d832-b11b-4019-a697-c88e45dacd32- : //news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/merlin_181658634_aa79d832-b11b-4019-a697-c88e45dacd32-superJumbo-50×38.jpeg 50w “size =” (max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px ” /></p>
<p class=The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo by Luigi Spina, courtesy of the Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii.  Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii.  Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii.  Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park

The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The <em>thermopolium</em>, or fast food restaurant, from Regio V in Pompeii.  Photo by Luigi Spina, courtesy of the Pompeii Archaeological Park “width =” 1024 “height =” 768 “srcset =” https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/vpuhw2uiygvulue64vme-1024×768 .jpeg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/vpuhw2uiygvulue64vme-300×225.jpeg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08 / vpuhw2uiygvulue64vme -50×38.jpeg 50w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/vpuhw2uiygvulue64vme.jpeg 1600w “size =” (max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px “/></p>
<p class=The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo by Luigi Spina, courtesy of the Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The <em>thermopolium</em>, or fast food restaurant, from Regio V in Pompeii.  Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park. “Width =” 1024 “height =” 768 “srcset =” https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/000AWN1YB6VY9AQU-C0-1024×768. jpeg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/000AWN1YB6VY9AQU-C0-300×225.jpeg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/ 08 / 000AWN1YB6VY9AQU-C0-50×38.jpeg 50w “size =” (max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px “/></p>
<p class=The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The <em>thermopolium</em>, or fast food restaurant, from Regio V in Pompeii.  Photo courtesy of the Pompeii Archaeological Park. “Width =” 958 “height =” 1024 “srcset =” https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/IPA_IPA22869582-958×1024.jpeg 958w , https: //news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/IPA_IPA22869582-281×300.jpeg 281w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/08/IPA_IPA22869582- 47×50.  jpeg 47w “size =” (max-width: 958px) 100vw, 958px “/></p>
<p class=The Thermopolium or fast food restaurant of Regio V in Pompeii. Photo courtesy of Pompeii Archaeological Park.

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