On 27 June, the Archaeological Park of Pompeii announced that a new fresco depicting a focaccia (an Italian flatbread) had been discovered. In recent years, the site has begun excavating previously unexplored areas of the once bustling town that was buried during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.
In the announcement, director Gabriel Zuchtriegel described a beautifully preserved still-life fresco depicting a cup of wine next to a focaccia on a silver tray holding various fruits and what looks like moretum, a Roman herb-and-cheese spread.
As the media caught wind of the new find, one phrase quickly rose to the top of Google search rankings: “ancient Roman pizza”. But is there enough evidence to confirm that the flatbread pictured in the Pompeian fresco is an early form of the beloved Neapolitan food? The short answer is “no”, although it’s understandable why some may initially assume, after glancing at the fresco (see image below), that these flatbreads are akin to pizza.