According to the Italian Culture Ministry on Tuesday, archaeologists have found a 2,000-year-old fresco painting in the ruined city of Pompeii that shows what can be considered the Italian pizza’s early ancestor.

Archaeologists claim that the flatbread depicted in the fresco next to the wine cup was consumed by ancestors together with fruits like pomegranate or dates and was topped with a specific sort of pesto sauce and spices. The pizza-looking food item, however, does not have cheese or tomatoes.

The flatbread picture was painted using the fresco technique, which involves the artist painting on wet lime plaster.

A fresco is “a painting done quickly in watercolour on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling so that the colours penetrate the plaster and become fixed as it dries,” according to the Oxford Dictionary.

The picture was found on the wall of a historic home in Pompeii, a city that was obliterated by a Mount Vesuvius explosion about 2,000 years ago.

The old food that was shown on the wall of a Pompeian home may have been a distant progenitor of the contemporary dish, according to the specialists at the archaeological park.

It is believed that the fresco refers to the ‘hospitable gifts’ which are offered to guests as per a Greek tradition which dates back to the 3rd to 1st centuries BC and has been described in detail by imperial Roman-era writers which include Philostratus and Virgil.

Pizza born as a ‘poor man’s dish’?

The recently found painting, according to Pompeii director Gabriel Zuchtriegel, contrasts “a frugal and simple meal, which refers to a sphere between the bucolic and the sacred… and the luxury of silver trays and the refinement of artistic and literary representations.”

“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,” he continued.

The recent excavations included an annexe with a bakery and exposed an atrium of a home. The remains of three victims have just been discovered in the industrial areas close to the oven, the specialists continued.

Pompeii never fails to astound. Gennaro Sangiuliano, minister of culture, described it as a coffin that constantly unearths new riches.

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius over two thousand years ago completely devastated Pompeii. Since then, there has been a dramatic increase in archaeological activity. The city was lost to the ages until it was found in the 16th century.

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