Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the director of Pompeii archaeological park, described the dish as a possible “distant ancestor” of pizza
Archaeologists in Italy have found a centuries-old painting that seemingly shows a dish that may have preceded one of the most popular dishes served around the world: pizza.
The 2,000-year-old artwork was found inside a home near a bakery during recent excavations of Regio IX in the center of Pompeii, the Italian Ministry of Culture said in a press release shared Tuesday.
One of the food items featured in the painting appears to be what Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the director of Pompeii archaeological park, describes as a possible “distant ancestor” of pizza.
However, the pizza-like item was noticeably missing both tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, which are synonymous with the popular Italian dish, according to the ministry’s Italian-language release.
Instead, archaeologists believe the dish was a “focaccia,” an Italian bread that often comes with various toppings baked into them. This particular dish appeared to be topped with spices and a sauce similar to pesto.
“The image brings to mind a pizza [especially] since we are near Naples,” Zuchtriegel said in a video shared by Pompeii Archaeological Park’s official YouTube channel, as translated by The Art Newspaper.
“Obviously it’s not a pizza,” Zuchtriegel added, “but perhaps it could have been a distant ancestor of this food.”
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Zuchtriegel also said the painting — which features images of a wine goblet and fruits — displays the similarities between a "frugal and simple meal" and the "luxury of silver trays,” as noted by the BBC.
"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,” Zuchtriegel shared.
The city of Pompeii fell victim to the violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Archaeologists have been digging in the area since January, the BBC reported.
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