by Editor-June 28th, 2023.
Italian archaeologists in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, which was buried under lava when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD have discovered a wall mural which depicts what looks like a very early version of the Italian pizza.
The pizza in the picture appears to be individual-sized.
The flatbread depicted in the 2,000-year-old fresco “may be a distant ancestor of the modern dish”, Italy’s culture ministry said.
But it lacks the classic ingredients to technically be considered a pizza.
For example, it could not have contained tomato sauce, since tomatoes were only discovered in the Americas in the post-Columbian era. At first Europeans were wary of eating tomatoes since the plant is closely related to the deadly nightshade family of plants.
The fresco was found in the hall of a house next to a bakery during recent digs at the site in southern Italy.
The discovery was made this year during new excavations of Regio IX in the centre of Pompeii, one of the nine districts that the ancient site is divided into.
The building was partially excavated in the 19th Century before digging recommenced in January this year – nearly 2,000 years on from the volcanic eruption which buried the city under a deep layer of volcanic lava.
Pompeii director Gabriel Zuchtriegel said it shows the contrast between a “frugal and simple meal” and the “luxury of silver trays”.
“How can we fail to think, in this regard, of pizza, also born as a ‘poor’ dish in southern Italy, which has now conquered the world and is also served in starred restaurants,” he said.
The skeletons of three people were also found near the oven in the working areas of the home in recent weeks, a culture ministry statement added.
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 buried Pompeii in ash, freezing the city and its residents in time. The site has been a rich source for archaeologists since its discovery in the 16th Century.
The site is only about 23km (14 miles) from the city of Naples – the modern day home of the Unesco-protected Italian pizza.
Sources: BBC, Italian culture ministry.