A painting believed to portray a potential precursor to Italian pizza has been unearthed by archaeologists in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.
According to Italy’s culture ministry, a 2,000-year-old fresco recently uncovered in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii depicts a flatbread that could be considered a distant ancestor of the modern Italian pizza, although it lacks the classic pizza ingredients.
Discovered in the hall of a house adjacent to a bakery, the fresco was found during the ongoing excavations in Regio IX, one of the districts within Pompeii. The building had been partially excavated in the 19th Century, with renewed excavations starting earlier this year, almost two millennia after the volcanic eruption that buried the city.
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Archaeologists at the UNESCO World Heritage site suggest that the flatbread depicted in the fresco might have been enjoyed with fruits like pomegranates or dates, or even dressed with spices and a type of pesto sauce. The painting portrays the contrast between a simple, modest meal and the luxury of serving it on silver trays.
Pompeii director Gabriel Zuchtriegel drew a connection between the fresco and pizza, highlighting how pizza originated as a humble dish in southern Italy and has now gained worldwide popularity, even being served in renowned restaurants.
In recent weeks, three skeletons were also discovered near the oven in the working areas of the house, as per a statement from the culture ministry. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 covered Pompeii in ash, preserving the city and its inhabitants over time. Since its discovery in the 16th Century, Pompeii has been a valuable archaeological site.
Situated approximately 23km (14 miles) from Naples, which is now known as the birthplace of the traditional Italian pizza, Pompeii is geographically close to the region where pizza gained fame.
Pompeii fresco depicts what might be the precursor of pizza