Too many times, the idea floats that commerce in the past wasn’t as interesting as it is today. Archaeologists beg to differ. There’s nothing like stumbling upon an ancient business and seeing the tools a surgeon held, how wine was made, or even ancient customers who took shelter. Even better, newly discovered workshops reveal mysterious products, enigmatic peoples, and technology more advanced than anything seen before.
10. The Pompeii Shop
A group of customers went shopping in AD 79 and never made it out of the shop alive. The infamous volcanic eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius hit the shop near the outskirts of Pompeii and overwhelmed them. In 2016, a mixed team of French and Italian archaeologists rediscovered the unlucky patrons, among them a teenage girl, while excavating the Herculaneum port. The other people who died there were also young. In addition to their remains, the diggers found gold coins and a gold necklace pendant that somehow got overlooked by looters.
While investigating the shop, researchers found telltale signs that somebody ransacked the business during the disaster, looking for things to steal. What product or service was sold at the shop is not entirely clear. However, it appeared to have been some sort of workshop with an oven, possibly to forge objects made of bronze. The same dig uncovered a second shop with a well and a spiral staircase, but researchers are presently at a loss about what type of business was conducted at the site.