Pizza-like food depicted in 2,000-year-old Pompeian painting

Pizza-like food depicted in 2,000-year-old Pompeian painting
Pizza-like food depicted in 2,000-year-old Pompeian painting

Within the ruins of the ash-preserved city of Pompeii, a newly discovered painting depicting a bountiful plate of food depicts what looks like a universally-loved Italian dish — pizza.

While the still life painting is not a UNESCO heritage menu dish, since it’s missing key ingredients like tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, archaeologists believe it could be its “distant ancestor.”

On Tuesday, the archeological site of Pompeii reported their excavation findings of the Region IX, buried in 79CE, where they found the still life fresco wall painting. archeologists believe the painting depicts focaccia bread with possibly pomegranates, dates, pesto and various other spices and condiments on top. The flat bread is also seen accompanied on the silver tray with various dried fruit and a cup of wine.

“I think about the contrast between a modest and simple meal that reminds us of a sphere that stands between the pastoral and the sacred on one side, and the luxury of the silver trays and the refinement of the artistic and literary representations on the opposite side ,” director general of Pompeii’s archeological park Gabriel Zuchtriegel said in a news release.

“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.”

According to archaeologists, this still life painting is of the Xenia genre which is inspired by the Greek tradition of hospitality. Also known as the “sphere of hospitality,” archaeologists say there are roughly 300 representations of this concept in several Vesuvian cities, however this painting is particularly noteworthy because of its high quality in execution.

“Pompeii never ceases to amaze; it is a chest that always reveals new treasures,” said the archeological site’s minister of culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano in a news release.

The painting was discovered in a house that was connected to a bakery. The entire 3,200 square meter excavation site, which is roughly the size of an average neighborhood in Pompeii, was first investigated by researchers between 1888 and 1891.

It wasn’t until January 2022 when archaeologists continued to excavate the site and were able to determine from the previous excavations the home’s layout contained a large atrium, several rooms and entrance of an oven. In the home’s work room, next to the oven, the skeletons of three victims were found.