| Last updated
The counter was found during excavations at Pompeii, the city that was struck by a volcanic eruption in 79AD and preserved under metres of ash and pumice.
The city laid buried for many centuries, but eventually it was excavated to reveal a site frozen in time.
Now archaeologists have unearthed a frescoed hot food and drinks shop known as a termopolium - Latin for hot drinks counter.
It was found in the archaeological park's Regio V site, which is not yet open to the public. The discovery was unveiled to the world on Saturday (26 December).
Massimo Ossana, director of the Pompeii archaeological park, said: "This is an extraordinary find. It's the first time we are excavating an entire termopolium."
Reuters reports that traces of nearly 2,000-year-old food were found in some of the deep terracotta jars of hot meals, which would have been lowered into a counter with circular holes.
The front of the counter, meanwhile, was decorated with brightly coloured frescoes - some of which depicted animals that made up the ingredients in the food, such as a chicken and two ducks hanging upside down.
Archaeologists also found a decorated bronze drinking bowl, known as a patera, along wine flasks, amphora (a type of container) and ceramic jars that were used for cooking stews and soups.
Valeria Amoretti, a site anthropologist, said: "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."
Amoretti said traces of pork, fish, snails and beef had been found inside the containers, saying the discovery was a 'testimony to the great variety of animal products used to prepare dishes'.
Pompeii, which lies 23km south-east of Naples, was home to some 13,000 people when it was buried under ash, dust and pumice after the eruption - which was the equivalent force of several atomic bombs.
It wasn't until the 16th Century that ruins were discovered, with organised excavations beginning around 1750.
Around two-thirds of the 66-hectare ancient town has now been uncovered, with Pompeii a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Italy's most popular attractions.
Featured Image Credit: PARCO ARCHEOLOGICO DI POMPEI/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read