The thermopolium (photo by and courtesy of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii)

Archaeologists have discovered a well-preserved, 2,000-year-old “fast food” counter at the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

The frescoed counter was found in one of 150 thermopolia, Roman cook-shops or snack bars, which were discovered in the Regio V area of the city.

In ancient Rome, fast food parlors served the poor who could not afford to install kitchens at their homes. Menus typically included coarse bread with salty fish, baked cheese, lentils, and mulled spiced wine. Visitors to these shops were mocked and scorned by the elites.

The recent findings were discovered in what is reported as the most comprehensive excavation in Pompeii since the 1960s. In February, archaeologists unearthed a preserved fresco depicting the mythological hunter Narcissus admiring his own reflection in the waters of a spring. Other findings include human and animal remains, including a harnessed horse, from the period.

Pompeii was a highly prosperous city before it was destroyed by an eruption that killed 2,000 and covered the city in a thick coat of volcanic ash in 79 CE. The ruins were first discovered in the sixteenth century, but excavations began only in 1748. Pompeii is now one of the world’s most visited archaeological sites.

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...