A Newly-Discovered Fresco in Pompeii Reveals a Precursor to Pizza

Archae­ol­o­gists dig­ging in Pom­peii have unearthed a fres­co con­tain­ing what may be a “dis­tant ances­tor” of the mod­ern piz­za. The fres­co fea­tures a plat­ter with wine, fruit, and a piece of flat focac­cia. Accord­ing to Pom­peii archae­ol­o­gists, the focac­cia does­n’t have toma­toes and moz­zarel­la on top. Rather, it seem­ing­ly sports “pome­gran­ate,” spices, per­haps a type of pesto, and “pos­si­bly condiments”–which is just a short hop, skip and a jump away to piz­za.

Found in the atri­um of a house con­nect­ed to a bak­ery, the fine­ly-detailed fres­co grew out of a Greek tra­di­tion (called xenia) where gifts of hos­pi­tal­i­ty, includ­ing food, are offered to vis­i­tors. Nat­u­ral­ly, the fres­co was entombed (and pre­served) for cen­turies by the erup­tion of Mt. Vesu­vius in 79 A.D.

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Relat­ed Con­tent

Explore the Roman Cook­book, De Re Coquinar­ia, the Old­est Known Cook­book in Exis­tence

How to Bake Ancient Roman Bread from 79 AD: A Video Intro­duc­tion

Watch the Destruc­tion of Pom­peii by Mount Vesu­vius, Re-Cre­at­ed with Com­put­er Ani­ma­tion (79 AD)

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.