5.2 The criteria chosen for this typology of Pompeii's food and drink outlets

5.2.1 Functional criteria

Because of the massive corpus of archaeological data I collected for each property, and because no two properties retain the same combination of information, a more judicious selection of criteria was necessary to develop an effective typology of these 158 food and drink outlets. A complex typology could have been developed to sort this bulk of information, but this would only serve to compartmentalise the available evidence. Instead, I generated a typology that produced more general than specific results, and one, I argue, is more likely to reflect the differentiations of activity and retail services among those retail outlets with masonry counters. A well-developed typology can sort the many and various retail outlets into groups that are more easily managed and intelligible, while also revealing the particular kinds of retail services available (and necessary) to the Pompeian community.

To sort the 158 properties in this study I chose archaeological criteria that are indicative of the activities associated with the retail sale of food and drink. Hence, the primary criterion for sorting the properties into types, apart from the retail counter that defines the 158 properties in the first instance, was the provision of a cooking facility operating in retail service with the counter. When I began this study, no list existed of the properties that were furnished with both a retail counter and a cooking facility (see Ellis 2004). Such installations can be used as criteria to test the likelihood that properties with masonry service counters operated as retail outlets for, specifically, food and drink. The presence of a masonry service counter and cooking facility in a shop would serve to differentiate a shop where the retail sale of cooked and prepared food and drink took place from other types of food shops, such as fruit and/or vegetable shops, and would thus serve as an essential tool for identifying and sorting a large range of retail buildings at Pompeii.

Figure 4
Figure 4: The mouths of various earthenware containers in the counter at VII.1.38-39, Pompeii.

Other possible indicators that can be used to test whether or not a counter functioned in the retail sale of food and drink could include the presence of earthenware storage vessels built into the counter (Figure 4) (Mau 1907, 394; hence Tanzer 1939, 42). However, the complete absence of such in-built containers in a counter does not preclude the sale of food and drink. The bar counter at I.6.5 had no earthenware containers built into it, yet a hearth was attached to one end and several cooking-ware vessels were found by the excavators on the counter and in the vicinity (Della Corte 1912, 251). Equally, the bar at IV.17/18 at Herculaneum had no in-built storage containers, but, on the counter itself, behind which was located a hearth, the excavators found several bowls filled with preserved foods such as walnuts (Deiss 1989, 118-21). The presence of several storage amphorae left in situ behind the counter at IX.11.2, even though four storage containers were built into it, reminds us to consider other arrangements for the storage of food and drink. As a consequence, I did not take the presence or absence of earthenware storage containers sunk into counters as an index for the retail provision of food and drink, nor to differentiate one type of retail food and drink outlet from another by the number or arrangement of such storage containers.


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