In Pompeii, Archaeologists Found A Painting Of A Pizza On The Crumbling Wall Of An Old House

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This past summer, archaeologists in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii came across a still-life painting of something resembling the pizza of today—just without the cheese and tomatoes—on the crumbling wall of an old house. Tomatoes and mozzarella cheese were not baked into pizzas in Italy until the 1800s.

In the 2,000-year-old painting, there is a silver tray holding a goblet filled with red wine, along with a round piece of flatbread adorned with various fruit toppings.

The fruit has been identified as pomegranates and dates. Additionally, the bread appears to be seasoned with spices or pesto. Dried fruits and yellow strawberry trees sit nearby.

Pompeii is located right outside of Naples, which is alluded to as the world capital of modern-day pizza.

Culture minister Gennaro Sanguiliano described Pompeii as a “casket that always reveals new treasures” in a statement announcing the find.

In A.D. 79, the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroyed the ancient city and buried it in thick clouds of ash, preserving many deceased individuals and structures in great detail. It is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of Pompeii’s population perished in the eruption.

The house with the painting was partially excavated in 1888 and 1891. Work resumed there at the beginning of 2023.

In ancient times, such images were known as “xenia,” and they referred to hospitable gifts offered to household guests, according to a Greek tradition dating back to the Hellenistic period, which spanned from the third to first centuries B.C.

Many Vesuvian cities have yielded hundreds of similar representations. In addition, ancient authors from the Roman imperial era, such as Virgil, Martial, and Philostratus, elaborated on the tradition in their writings.

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