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Pompeii Ruins Reveal Remnants of Pizza-Like Delicacy



Pizza without mozzarella and tomato might not seem like pizza to Neapolitans, but a new discovery by archaeologists working among the ruins of Pompeii could offer a glimpse of an ancient version of the much-loved modern dish.

A fresco on the wall of a home in the destroyed Roman city shows a silver tray with food items including flat Focaccia bread, fruit and a goblet of red wine against a black background. The still life dates back approximately 2,000 years and “could be a distant ancestor” of pizza, the Archaeological Park of Pompeii said in a statement, adding that it was missing some classic ingredients of the dish.

The discovery was made in the atrium of a residence connected to a bakery. The structure was partly explored in the 19th century. Excavations resumed in January.

Ancient Pompeii house shows what life was like before volcano erupted

The city on the foothills of Mount Vesuvius was destroyed after a cataclysmic volcanic eruption in 79 A.D. The disaster, which came with minimal warning, buried the wealthy Roman enclave under ash and cinders, substances that prevented the site’s deterioration and made restoration possible.

The UNESCO World Heritage site is popular with tourists, who can roam through primeval streets, amid temples and amphitheaters that provide a rare at daily life in ancient urban Roman settlements.

Previous discoveries at the site have revealed intact skeletal remains of a horse, a street lined with grand balconied homes and a tomb with remains of an adult man, among others.

The director of the Pompeii archaeological park, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, identified the fresco as being in the Greek or Hellenistic tradition. The image juxtaposes a pastoral, simple meal and the luxuriousness of a silver tray, he said in the statement.

“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,” he said.

The bread appears to be seasoned with spices or with a type of pesto, the archaeologists deduced from the yellowish and ocher dots on the image. The tray also holds dried fruit, next to pomegranates and dates.

Pompeii is located less than 20 miles from modern Naples, whose pizza-making tradition won a spot on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list in 2017. The culinary practice of the “pizzaiuolo,” or pizzamakers, includes preparing and flipping the dough in a complex rotation before baking it in a wood-fired oven.


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