Archaeologists in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii have found a picture of what may have been the precursor to Italian pizza.
The flat bread depicted in a 2,000-year-old fresco “may be a distant ancestor of modern cuisine,” according to Italy’s culture ministry.
But it lacks the ingredients to technically be considered pizza.
During recent excavations at the site in southern Italy, a fresco was found in a house next to a bakery.
The discovery was made this year in new excavations of Reggio IX in central Pompeii, one of the nine districts into which the ancient site was divided.
The building was partially excavated in the 19th century and excavations began in January of this year – a volcanic eruption that hit the town nearly 2,000 years ago.
Archaeologists at the UNESCO World Heritage site said the newly uncovered fresco depicts a painted flatbread next to a glass of wine, eaten with fruit such as pomegranate or dates, or dressed with spices and pesto sauce.
Director of Pompeii, Gabriel Zuchtrigel, said it shows the contrast between “thrifty and simple food” and “the luxury of silver trays”.
“How can we not think of pizza, born in southern Italy as a ‘poor’ food, now conquering the world and served in star restaurants.
The bodies of three people were found in recent weeks near the fireplace in his work area, the Ministry of Culture statement added.
In AD 79, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in ash, freezing the city and its inhabitants in time. The site has been a rich resource for archaeologists since its discovery in the 16th century.
The location is only 23 km (14 miles) from the city of Naples – the UNESCO-protected modern home of Italian pizza.
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