Tag Archives: Pompeii

Throwback Thursday! Food on the Go, Pompeii Style

By Mosborne01 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Pompeii is still dishing up its surprises. In December 2020 a significant find was announced after the expansion of an excavation site of a thermopolium.  For those not familiar with Pompeian fast food, that’s an establishment, one of possibly 150 in Pompeii, that served up the best of takeaway and sit-down eats. Yes, Pompeii had its eat-as-you-go devotees as we do today.

By Jebulon – Own work, CC0

The recent excavation of the thermopolium has revealed exuberantly painted and finely detailed frescoes that have excited the archaeological world and given Pompeii another reason to be ranked among the most important of international treasures. Of particular note is that the uncovered frescos were no mere decoration adorning the walls and counter of the thermopolium. Rather, they served as menus depicting the popular dishes that could be purchased. Since many of the clientele were illiterate and from poorer populations, the pictures indicated food choices; customers merely had to point to pictures to order. To see what the excitement is all about, take a look at the colorful drawings of daily fare, including fish and fowl, here. Listen to Massimo Osanna, who is Director General of National Museums, Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, and Director of Pompeii, describe the importance of the frescoes. Then revisit our Bon Appetit Wednesday! blog for more fascinating facts on thermopolia, their status in Pompeian culture and the menus that whetted the appetites of their patrons. Finally, flaunt your culinary chops by whipping up a dish from a recipe we included for a Pompeian staple.

Thousands of years haven’t changed our love of food nor it seems the business of life. There’s always something needing to be done and not enough time to do it. As those Pompeians would attest, tempus fugit (time flies). So follow the advice that served so many, so well, two thousand years ago. If you are hungry and in a hurry, get yourself to your own 21st century version of a thermopolium, celerius quam asparagi cocunter (faster than asparagus is cooked).

Further reading:

https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/dig-of-pompeii-fast-food-place-reveals-ancient-tastes/5716251.html

From Ancient Graffiti to Modern Street Art: Our Need for Self Expression Through Time

Maeshowe chambered cairn.

Maeshowe chambered cairn.

Update! This post was originally published on December 12, 2012. The post below explores humanity’s fascinating obsession with leaving our mark. Graffiti has been with us since before recorded history. It provides an incredible wealth of information about who we are as historical beings and where we’ve been. These ancient markings also cause us to reflect on the sweep of human endeavor and wonder what will remain of the 21st century that may intrigue, appall or inspire, much as ancient graffiti does today. Continue reading

KIDS’ BLOG! Blowing Their Tops: The Destructive History and Amazing Science of Volcanoes

Lava flow from Mount Kilauea. Image credit: Adrian Glover

Lava flow from Mount Kilauea. Image credit: Adrian Glover

UPDATE! This post was originally published on September 3rd, 2013. Right now an ancient volcano in Hawaii is causing a lot of trouble for residents. The Kilauea Volcano, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, is actually its youngest volcano, but that doesn’t mean it’s a baby by any stretch of the imagination. It is over 300,000 years old and has been constantly active since prehistoric times. It is one of the world’s most active volcanos and features prominently in many Polynesian legends, including the story of Pele, a volcanic goddess who is said to live in the Kilauea crater.[1] There is even archaeological evidence of the eruptions that have taken place since antiquity. Footprints frozen in time leave reminders of those who have lost their lives to this powerful force of nature.[2] Continue reading

Roman Gladiators: How They Compare to Modern Sporting Heroes

Super_Bowl_XLIII_-_Thunderbirds_Flyover_-_Feb_1_2009 (1)

UPDATE!  This post was originally published on April 4th, 2013. American football season is in full swing and the players are back in the news for their behavior on and off the field. As the NFL grapples with scandal, the game goes on and fans all over the country are gathering each week, suiting up in their best team apparel, breaking out the tailgate, switching on the big screen or even traveling to the stadium to cheer on their favorite players and teams. We thought this would be a perfect time to republish this post about the similarities between our modern sporting celebrities and the ancient heroes of the gladiatorial games. You’ll be amazed to learn how much our modern athletes have in common with their ancient counterparts. And don’t miss Part 1 of this 2-part series, Super Bowl XLVII and the Superstars of Ancient Rome, which illuminates even more fascinating comparisons. Continue reading

Ancient Volcanic Eruptions Lead to Modern Predictions

Computer generated imagery of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius as seen from Pompeii in 79 AD.

Computer generated imagery of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius as seen from Pompeii in 79 AD.

This past Saturday, August 24th, marked the generally accepted anniversary of the 79 CE eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy. It has been centuries since the famous volcano erupted and destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, burying them under a pyroclastic flow and preserving them in stunning and tragic detail. An estimated 16,000 people lost their lives in the days that followed.  Today, 2,000 years later, scientists are using data gained from such ancient eruptions to ensure that fewer lives are lost when volcanoes erupt.  Continue reading

Ancient Graffiti: From Pompeii to Smyrna

Image courtesy of DHA

Image courtesy of DHA

We’ve talked a lot about ancient graffiti in our blog posts and it has always been about the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.  In “Wall Posts: Putting Pompeii’s Political Graffiti in a Modern Context” we discussed how politicians campaigned using graffiti on the walls of wealthy homeowners and in “Super Bowl XLVII and the Superstars of Ancient Rome” we explained how people could find a favorite gladiator advertising olive oil or his latest fight on the walls of the city.  Recently, an archaeological dig unearthed a collection of graffiti that may be even richer than that of Pompeii.  Archaeologists working in the agora (ancient marketplace) of Izmir -or Greek Smyrna- found the “richest Greek graffiti collection in the world” dating back to the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D.  Continue reading

Super Bowl XLVII and the Superstars of Ancient Rome

Detail of the Villa Borghese gladiator mosaic, 4th century CE

Detail of the Villa Borghese gladiator mosaic, 4th century CE

The stadium is hot, packed with roaring fans ready to cheer for their favorite players.  Above the din, vendors are screaming out what foods and souvenirs are for sale.  The city is festooned with colorful advertisements sporting muscle-bound celebrities endorsing the latest products.  Super Bowl 2013?  Think again.   It’s actually ancient Rome.  As the doors open, the gladiators emerge, boldly strutting onto the field for the day’s games.   The crowd goes wild, Roman BCE-style. Continue reading

Wall Posts: Putting Pompeii’s Political Graffiti in a Modern Context

Do you instantly share your amazing dinner on Instagram?  Post about your political opinion on Facebook?  Find a liked-minded community through LinkedIn? Perhaps our ancestors had similar feelings about their social networking systems.

While part of online social networking is creating an identity, the main purpose is to create connections with others and add to the conversation.   In today’s hypercaffeinated online world, we get excited if a celebrity or important organization re-tweets us. We feel part of something, connected to a person or idea that expands our sense of self. Continue reading