Pompeii: Ancient 'fast food' counter to open to the public

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The paintings on this counter have been preserved for nearly two millennia

A "fast food" shop from the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, which was destroyed in a volcanic eruption almost 2,000 years ago, is to open to the public - for viewings only - next year.

The food counter, known as a thermopolium, would have served hot food and drinks to locals in the city.

The shop, with its bright frescoes and terracotta jars, was discovered in 2019 and unveiled on Saturday.

Pompeii was engulfed by a volcanic eruption from Mount Vesuvius in AD79.

The eruption buried Pompeii in a thick layer of ash, preserving the city and the outlines of many of its residents in time, and making it a rich source for archaeologists.

The paintings found at the site are believed to show some of the food that was on offer to customers, including chicken and duck.

Traces of pork, fish, snails and beef were also discovered in jars and other containers.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Duck and chicken may have been available for Pompeii's customers

The director of the Pompeii archaeological park, Massimo Ossana, told the Reuters news agency that the discovery was "extraordinary".

"It's the first time we are excavating an entire thermopolium," he said.

The Pompeii site, which lies around 23km (14 miles) to the south-east of Naples, is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the park hopes to reopen by Easter.

Around a third of the ancient city has not yet been uncovered and finds from the site continue to emerge.

Last month archaeologists discovered the remains of two men, believed to be a citizen of high status and his slave, who were killed during the eruption.

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