Ancient Pompeii ‘Fast-Food’ Spot Lured Customers with Sexy Logo
Before Mount Vesuvius blasted Pompeii to smithereens in 79, it was possible to grab a bite to eat there at a “fast-food” joint decorated with a handsome sea nymph.
This ancient restaurant, known as a thermopolium — a snack bar serving drinks and hot, ready – to – eat food — was recently uncovered by archeologists during an excavation in the ancient city.
In fact, archaeologists know of about 80 such eateries in Pompeii already — showing that the folks of ancient Pompeii enjoyed munching on easily accessible, savory goodies, just as we do today.”
Even if structures like these are well-known at Pompeii, discovering more of them, along with objects which went hand in hand with commercial and thus daily life,” helps researchers learn more about daily life in ancient Pompeii, Alfonsina Russo, the interim director at the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, the group that did the research, said in a statement.
This particular thermopolium sits at the intersection of two alleys: Vicolo Delle Nozze d’Argento (Silver Wedding Alley) and Vicolo dei Balconi (Alley of the Balconies), which were excavated only recently.
The excavation is part of the Great Pompeii Project, which is uncovering and studying a poorly examined area within the city.
A painting on the thermopolium of a scantily clad sea nymph, known as a nereid, immediately caught the eye of archaeologists during the dig.
This nereid, who is riding a horse with a sea dragon-like tail, likely served as the eatery’s shop sign, the archaeologists working on the project said.
Next, to the nereid are paintings of a plant and a man working in a cafe, likely an illustration of a busy day at the snack bar.
Archaeologists also found clay jugs, known as amphorae, in front of the counter.
These amphorae look just like the ones in the thermopolium illustration, the excavators noted.
The discovery of this thermopolium “transport[s] us to those tragic moments of the eruption,” Russo said.
Life didn’t end after Mount Vesuvius erupted. The catastrophe likely killed about 2,000 people, but new research indicates that the rest of the city’s 15,000 to 20,000 inhabitants likely settled in nearby cities, including Naples and Cumae. Hopefully, these refugees found more thermopolia in their new neighborhoods.
Traces of Roman engineering found in ancient port town
Some two millennia ago, Lechaion, one of the ports of the ancient city of Corinth, occupied a special place on the map of southern Greece.
It was a strategic point that easily connected to a number of significant trade routes that snaked through the Mediterranean and led to Italy, Turkey, and Tunisia, among other territories, helping Corinth to prosper.
For the past five years, archaeologists have been busy with underwater excavations to locate this lost ancient trade port, but it was not until 2017 that they came across some ground-breaking findings.
As a strategic center on the south coast of Greece, Corinth was initially diminished by the Romans in the 2nd century B.C. However, a century later, the Romans had gone after recolonizing Corinth, so the place was resurrected in 44 B.C. under none other than Julius Caesar himself (the same year of his death).
The famed ruler even named the colony after himself: Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis.
The recent underwater surveying and exploration of the area have been conducted within the Lechaion Harbor Project, which commenced as early as 2013.
Activities have been led by both Danish and Greek researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities. Some of their findings feature remarkably preserved remains of the 1st century A.D. harbor, while a portion of the underwater artifacts dates to five centuries later.
The quest to locate the harbor has paid off in any case, revealing remarkable examples of ancient Roman engineering, included remnants of an island monument, which archaeologists believe served religious purposes, amid the restoration efforts of the entire Corinth.
“The mysterious inland monument in the middle of Harbor Basin 3–an area of the Inner Harbor–was dated to the early 1st century A.D. It was likely built as part of a Roman building program designed to help restore Corinth,” stated Bjørn Lovén from the University of Copenhagen, a co-director of the Lechaion Harbor Project.
It is the larger basin found in the outer parts of the harbor by Lovén’s team that was traced back to the 6th century A.D., while remnants identified in the inner parts of the port reveal clues that they belong to the 1st century.
There, they have also identified the foundation of what had probably once been a lighthouse. Lovén said: “We have excavated archaeological layers where almost everything is preserved.
Consider the pristine preservation of the roughly 2000-year-old-wooden post (see video) and imagine how well preserved wood and other organic materials that still lie at the bottom of this harbor.”
According to archaeologists, the wooden post likely fulfilled a function to support other structures, or perhaps it helped with the navigation of vessels within the harbor.
While stone blocks undoubtedly count as astounding examples of Roman engineering work, not the least striking seem to be the elements made of wood such as the wooden post itself. Typically, wood works would not endure such extensive periods of time underwater, but they would diminish.
There are other interesting findings, such as different types of seeds and bones. Though organic, these leftovers from the ancients have remained intact as they had stayed buried in deposits underwater.
A DNA analysis of these artifacts, still to be conducted within the framework of the research project, will enable researchers to tap into a sea of information regarding life in this coastal part of Greece.
In the words of archaeologists, such DNA tests will make for an “attempt to reconstruct the past environment genetically.”It will allow them access to data about life in different eras of antiquity, including the days of the ancient Romans, and they will even get to see what kind of flora and fauna thrived in the regions 2,000 years ago.
As archaeologists explain, analyzing wooden elements in the labs will potentially reveal many more details about the construction efforts of the Romans than what can be retrieved as data from stone remnants.
Lovén commented in this context, “I was joking that I would rather find a wooden spoon than a statue, and we did find archaeological layers where almost everything is preserved.”More findings from the underwater surveying include leftovers of everyday life in the ancient port, including pieces of pottery that give additional clues about the trade conducted between Corinth and other ancient seaside cities across the Mediterranean.
The underwater explorations have taken place in areas that are not at significant sea depths, but also areas that still count as quite active when it comes to the marine environment.
Researchers continually had to deal with relentless waves that would quickly bury with sediment their freshly made excavation trenches. However, they have used drone surveying, one of the few methods that have helped them in tracing terrain changes in the coast area quickly.
The use of such techniques has helped them locate the new harbor basin. As much as Lechaion flourished in many aspects, its glory did not last for very long.
A severe earthquake hit the area soon after it was restored under Caesar, destroying almost everything on the coast and lifting the surrounding area around Lechaion by over three feet.
An archaeological report on findings from Roman fort at Hadrian’s Wall
Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum—A new archaeological report hailed as the definitive full account of the excavations of Hadrian’s Wall at its eastern end has just been published.
Hadrian’s Wall at Wallsend is written by Paul Bidwell OBE, former Head of Archaeology at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), and encapsulates the knowledge gleaned from 28 years of intermittent excavations around Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend in North Tyneside.
Taking place between 1988 and 2015, these digs culminated in the Treasury-funded project that saw the rediscovery of the fort’s baths as well as the public display of the full stretch of Wall remains.
The Hadrian’s Wall at Wallsend report represents an account of one of the most comprehensively excavated sections of Hadrian’s Wall anywhere along its 73-mile length.
Paul Bidwell, author, and President of The Arbeia Society said: “It has been a privilege to draw together the results of so many years work by so many people.
The results are a great advance in our understanding of how Hadrian’s Wall was built and of its later history.
They also show that the remains of the Wall in urban Tyneside are just as important as the better-preserved lengths in rural Northumberland.”
Paul Bidwell was Head of Archaeology at TWAM until retirement. He has led and published excavations in Exeter and along Hadrian’s Wall, including at South Shields, Vindolanda, Newcastle, Chesters and Willowford; and has been a contributor to many other publications on aspects of Roman Archaeology, including Roman ceramics.
The driving force behind one of the UK’s most ambitious and controversial reconstruction projects at Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort, 31 years ago Paul Bidwell led the charge to recreate a fort gate house in its original foundations.
The report has been published by TWAM with The Arbeia Society, a registered charity established in 1992 to support research into and promotion of Roman archaeology in North East England.
North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE, said: “We welcome the publication of this report.
It is a significant achievement by Paul and one that will help to enrich our knowledge and understanding of one of our most precious heritage sites.” Iain Watson, Director of TWAM said: “This is a very significant contribution to the body of knowledge of Hadrian’s Wallsend, a huge undertaking, bringing together and translating into contemporary context 28 years of archaeological findings.
We congratulate Paul and look forward to the report’s reception.”Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum is now a visitor attraction incorporating a museum and an extensively excavated Roman ‘archaeological park’ fort site, overlooked by a 35m viewing tower attracting around 50,000 visits a year.
1,900 years ago it was the edge of the Roman Empire, the very cusp of the eastern end of the Empire’s northern frontier. Segedunum – meaning ‘strong place’ – sat on a plateau overlooking the north bank of the River Tyne, the spot was chosen strategically to command views east down the river to the coast at South Shields and 2 miles up the river toward Newcastle upon Tyne.
The 73-mile wall, now a World Heritage Site, was constructed on the orders of Emperor Hadrian in AD122 and originally ended at the River Tyne’s lowest bridgeable point – Newcastle upon Tyne – until 2 or 3 years later when it was extended to Wallsend.
Only 7% of the original wall is visible today and only about 0.5% of its entire length has been excavated using modern archaeological techniques, though much more can be seen of the forts, milecastles, turrets, and bridges along its line.
The 80 meter stretch at Wallsend that has been scrutinized by archaeologists over the years lies 50 meters west of the Segedunum fort. Its first contemporary digs were led by the late Charles Daniels of Newcastle University in the mid-1970s. The Wall at Wallsend, 2.26m wide, was built without mortar but with carefully-laid courses of stonework.
Separate groups of legionaries built lengths of 30 Roman feet (about 9m). They were also tasked with building an aqueduct which ran through the Wall and supplied the baths outside the fort.
Markers for building plots running up to the back of the Wall were also found. They show that a settlement containing civilian and some military buildings were laid out at the same time that the Wall and the adjacent fort were built.
In the early 3rd century, the Wall at Segedunum was destroyed by a catastrophic flood which also washed away part of the baths and undermined the fort wall.
The aqueduct was replaced and the Wall rebuilt, probably on the instructions of Septimius Severus in about AD 208; this emperor, rather than Hadrian, was credited by late-Roman writers as the original builder of the Wall. Shorter lengths of the Wall collapsed and were rebuilt on three subsequent occasions. One of these later reconstructions reused masonry from various buildings, including one of the fort gates, a temple possibly dedicated to Diana, and a bathhouse.
The volume also includes an account of the building of the replica section of Hadrian’s Wall at Segedunum, constructed in 1996.
It is a rare day when archeologists find an ancient burial that has not been destroyed by natural processes, ravaged by war, or plundered by hunters of artifacts.
It is why King Tut’s untouched tomb was so significant and why archaeologists are going gaga over the tomb of a Greek warrior discovered in Pylos.
Add another to the list; archeologists uncovered an untouched Roman tomb in Rome several weeks ago that they call the Athlete’s Tomb. Local Italy reports.
The tomb was found in the Case Rosse area west of the center of Rome by an earthmover working to extend an aqueduct about 6 feet underground.
Inside lay the undisturbed remains of 4 people, including a man in his 30s, a man in his 50s, a man between the age of 35 to 45, and a woman of undetermined age.
Francesco Prosperetti, who oversees archaeology in Rome, tells Elisabetta Povoledo at The New York Times that finding the tomb was sheer luck. “Had the machine dug just four inches to the left, we would have never found the tomb,” he says.
The discovery also unearthed an assortment of jugs and dishes, a bronze coin, along with dishes of chicken, rabbit and another animal believed to be a lamb or goat, likely offerings to sustain them in the afterlife.
Among the trove were two strigils, blunt hooks that Romans used to clean themselves and wipe off oil while bathing and that athletes used to scrape away sweat.
In fact, the strigil was considered the symbol of an athlete in the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.
Still, calling the find the “Tomb of the Athlete,” is more or less a marketing move, Fabio Turchetta, one of the archaeologists working on the site, tells Povoledo since all the men inside are over 35 and would have been well past their prime by classical standards. “To say there was an athlete is a bit of stretch, but it works journalistically,” as he puts it diplomatically.
Based on the coin found in the tomb, which includes an image of Minerva on one side and a horse head with the word “Romano” on the other, the tomb dates between 335 and 312 B.C.E. during the heyday of the Roman Republic.
Researchers have begun the process of removing the bodies from the tomb, which will be sent to the laboratory for analysis and DNA testing to determine if they are a family.
A paleobotanist also collected samples of pollen and plant material to help figure out the flora of the area when the tomb was constructed.
The structure itself has been documented by a laser scan and will be sealed up once excavations are complete.
Turchetta tells Povoledo that the area the tomb was found in has been heavily surveyed and excavated in the past, so finding the intact chamber was surprising and emotional.
This isn’t the first time that construction in Rome has uncovered amazing finds. Just last year, while expanding the metro system, archaeologists found that the bones of a dog inside the remains of an aristocratic home that burned down during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus in the 2nd century C.E.
The same construction project also uncovered the military barracks of emperor Hadrian’s Praetorian Guard.