MARSEILLE, France — New discoveries in the Provence may have anthropologists rethinking the history of the region as well as humans’ relationship with the culinary arts. Archeologists last month confirmed artifacts from a dig site south of Saint-Rémy belong to the earliest known Sbarro fast-casual restaurant and date to the beginning of the fourth century B.C., pushing back the pizzalogical timeline by nearly two millenia.
The ancient structure, on which the tricolor awnings could clearly been seen after further excavation, sits at the heart of the Glanum, a Celto-Ligurian city that predates the Roman conquest of Gaul. “These markings clearly indicate that this was the trading post for pizza, pastas, salads, and even calzones throughout most of the Iron Age,” explains pizzologist Marc Shin-Krantz of the University of Bologna who was not involved in the dig, “which is a significant discovery, but we still do not have primary evidence; I cannot state how huge it would be to find a faithfully-preserved 14-inch Buffalo Chicken pie.”
The previous explanation of how ancient Europeans mastered the dual arts of mozzarella and marinara places the the advent of the Sbarro pizza chain at around 1953, when Italian-American Gennaro and Carmela Sbarro founded the chain in Brooklyn. However, the site at Glanum twists that theory like a buttered garlic knot, with intact fragments of an XL NYC slice dating to before the founding of New York City, the arrival of tomatoes from the New World, or even the technology to create a basic pizza oven.
“We’re inching closer to knowing the true Pizzaception, or first known modern pizza,” says Shin-Krantz, “and I suspect that there may be even older Sbarros sealed in the grimy, local train stations of antiquity.”