A Picture of What Looks a Lot Like a Pizza Was Found in the Ruins of Pompeii

A 2,000-year-old fresco shows what could be the ancestor of the pizza, Italy’s culture ministry said.
pompeii pizza

A painting of what could be the precursor to a modern Italian pizza has been found on a wall of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

The fresco, which is 2,000 years old, shows a flatbread that lacks the ingredients to technically qualify as a pizza, but Italy's culture ministry said it “may be a distant ancestor of the modern dish.”

The flatbread can be seen next to a goblet of wine, and archaeologists say it appears to have been topped with fruits such as pomegranates or dates. It could also have been seasoned with spices and a kind of pesto.


Tomatoes and mozzarella – the two most important ingredients for a classic pizza – were not available in AD 79, when the town was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. 

The fresco was found by excavators earlier this year in Regio IX, a district in the centre of Pompeii. The excavations have revealed the annexe of a house, including a bakery. The culture ministry said three human skeletons were also found near the oven in working areas of the house.

Pompeii director Gabriel Zuchtriegel said that the newly discovered fresco shows the contrast between a “frugal and simple meal” and the “luxury of silver trays”.

“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 said.

Pompeii is just 23km (14 miles) from Naples, birthplace of the modern-day pizza.