Entrance vestibule at a house in Pompeii, Italy

Entrance vestibule at a house in Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii discovery paints pizza in a new light

Food & Beverage

The 2,000-year-old fresco depicts image of a flatbread resembling pizza dish.

While the origins of pizza have been debated for centuries, a recently discovered 2,000-year-old painting in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii shows what appears to be a precursor of the famous dish.

The fresco was discovered during recent digs at the site in southern Italy, the picture showing a tray of food including what appears to be a pizza-like food.

It was found in a building connected to a bakery in the city destroyed after Vesuvius erupted with devastating effects in AD 79, burying ancient Pompeii under ash and cinders; the site is less than 20 miles from modern-day Naples.

While flatbreads with toppings were consumed by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, Naples is seen as the birthplace of the modern pizza – tomato sauce, cheese and toppings – around the latter part of the 18th century.

Director of Pompeii archaeological park, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, says the picture shows the contrast between a “frugal and simple meal” and the “luxury of silver trays”.

“When considering this matter, how can we not think about pizza, also born as a ‘poor’ dish in southern Italy that has now conquered the world and is served in Michelin star restaurants,” said Zuchtriegel.

Zuchtriegel identified the fresco as being in the Greek or Hellenistic tradition; the flatbread in the picture appears to be seasoned with spices or with what has been described as a type of pesto, deduced by archaeologists from the yellowish dots on the image.

Falstaff Editorial Team
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