Sorry, pizza purists: Fresco from Pompeii shows Romans ate a precursor to pizza 2,000 years ago with fruit resembling pineapple

A close-up of the fresco found in Pompeii shows a chalice, various fruits and a circular bread topped with ingredients resembling a pizza.

The fresco depicts a pizza-like food on a silver plate.Pompeii Archaeological Park

  • A fresco in Pompeii has revealed a surprising feast: a breaded food that looks like a pizza.

  • It may not qualify as pizza since Pompeii didn’t have access to tomatoes or mozzarella, the researchers said.

  • The food may be an ancestor of pizza, which appears to have been covered in fruit, they said.

A 2,000-year-old fresco discovered in the Pompey ruins appears to show a very early form of pizza topped with fruit.

The plate of bread is seen in the ancient painting alongside a goblet of wine and several pieces of fruit, some of which look very similar to a pineapple.

While foodies may cringe at the thought of a Hawaiian pizza in Italy, experts believe the fruit shown atop the bread is more likely to be a pomegranate and dates.

It is likely that the pineapple-like fruit decorating the silver plate is a garland of “strawberry trees,” which are pointed grape-like fruits also called arbutus commonly found in the Mediterranean region.

“The image resembles a pizza as we are near Naples,” said Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Pompeii archaeological park, in a video about the find, according to The Art Newspaper.

“Obviously it’s not a pizza but perhaps it could have been a distant ancestor of this food”.

Experts, however, say the image doesn’t strictly qualify as a pizza because the basic ingredients, such as tomatoes and mozzarella, would not have been available in Pompeii at the time, according to a press release released Tuesday.

They claim the flatbread would have been topped with fruit spice and a herb cheese called moretum.

The bread in this context may have been used as a sort of dish to present foods rather than as part of the meal, according to the press release.

That said, the debate continues: Gino Sorbillo, owner of one of Naples’ oldest pizzerias, has said he believes the food is “an ancient form of pizza,” reported The Guardian.

“You can use fruit, like figs or strawberries, if it’s a sweet pizza,” she said. But she stressed that pineapple on a pizza will always be taboo.

“Tastes are tastes,” he added. “We make traditional pizza and we would never use pineapple.”

One photo shows the ruins with the fresco in situ, against a blue sky.

The fresco was found in newly discovered ruins.Pompeii Archaeological Park

The fresco, which has retained its vibrant colors over the years, is a rare find for archaeologists.

They believe it is a representation of foods that would have been offered as part of the Xenia, a symbol of hospitality in the Greek tradition.

Zuchtriegel noted that the fresco is distinguished from other depictions of Xenia by the stark contrast between the foods, which make up a “frugal and simple meal”, and their elaborate presentation next to a full goblet of red wine, presented on a plate silver.

The find is part of a new series of excavations in the Regio IX area of ​​Pompeii, a central part of the site that had not been investigated since the 19th century.

People from Pompeii came to this area to do their laundry and dye clothes at the local washbasin, as well as to visit a bakery, according to archeology news site Heritage Daily. A bakery was found next to the house where the fresco was discovered.

The skeletal remains of three victims were found at the scene, two adults and a child aged between 3 and 4 years. The adults were likely killed in an earthquake that preceded the volcano’s eruption, as the remains of one of the victims was found with his arms raised to protect himself from the rubble, according to The Guardian.

Pompeii “never ceases to amaze,” Italy’s culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, said in the press release about the fresco.

“It’s a treasure chest that is always revealing new treasures,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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