An ‘extraordinary’ archaeological discovery has been made at the ancient site of Pompeii.
A well-preserved ‘snack bar’ has been found at the ancient city, which was destroyed two centuries ago by a volcanic eruption.
The discovery is basically the Roman equivalent of a modern-day street food stall.
It was found last year at the Pompeii archaeological site to the south-east of Naples in Italy.
Massimo Ossana, director of the Pompeii archaeological park, told the Reuters news agency: ‘This is an extraordinary find. It’s the first time we are excavating an entire termopolium.’
The excavation also uncovered the remains of food and drink that had survived for 2,000 years in jars and containers.
Known as a termopolium, Latin for hot drinks counter, the shop was discovered in the archaeological park’s Regio V site, which is not yet open the public, and unveiled on Saturday.
Traces of nearly 2,000-year-old food were found in some of the deep terra cotta jars containing hot food which the shop keeper lowered into a counter with circular holes.
The front of the counter was decorated with brightly coloured frescoes, some depicting animals that were part of the ingredients in the food sold, such as a chicken and two ducks hanging upside down.
Archaeologists also found a decorated bronze drinking bowl known as a patera, ceramic jars used for cooking stews and soups, wine flasks and amphora.
Pompeii, 23 km (14 miles) southeast of Naples, was home to about 13,000 people when it was buried under ash, pumice pebbles and dust as it endured the force of an eruption equivalent to many atomic bombs.
‘Our preliminary analyses shows that the figures drawn on the front of the counter, represent, at least in part, the food and drink that were sold there,’ said Valeria Amoretti, a site anthropologist.
Amoretti said traces of pork, fish, snails and beef had been found in the containers, a discovery she called a ‘testimony to the great variety of animal products used to prepare dishes’.
About two-thirds of the 66-hectare (165-acre) ancient town has been uncovered. The ruins were not discovered until the 16th century and organised excavations began about 1750.
A rare documentation of Greco-Roman life, Pompeii is one of Italy’s most popular attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.