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james 06-06-2006 10:52 PM

Ancient Roman Oven Photos
Here is a permanent posting for our photo journal on the ancient Pompeii Ovens. There are more than 30 brick ovens preserved in Pompeii, including large commercial ovens with on-site grain mills, and small residential ovens inside homes. Some of the ovens are in great shape, and could almost be fired to make bread or pizza today. I have introduced myself to various staff members, and they have allowed me to crawl inside the ovens to take pictures.

Here are the photos:

The bread loaves found inside the excavated ovens were round, and had the seal of the bakery on top. My guess is that they were great. Many of the bakeries were in the "food" neighborhoods of Pompeii, and were surrounded by hot and cold food and drink bars -- complete with granite and marble counter tops.

OK. They had milled wheat flour; natural yeast; salt; brick ovens; olive oil; cow, sheep and goat cheese; cured meats; a wonderful water table; and herbs. You cannot tell me that the ancient world didn't have great pizza.

I am still struck by the ancient ovens, and the fact that the modern pizzeria just outside the city gate has a wood-fired oven that looks exactly like the ovens in the old city. There is nothing new under the sun; we just have to pick the pieces that we want to preserve.

stuart 06-07-2006 10:31 AM

Hopefully hundreds or even thousands of years from now people will be discovering all the ovens this group has (or will have) built around the country!

CanuckJim 06-09-2006 02:47 AM


What a wonderful, inspiring series of pictures for all of us to enjoy. Thanks very much for them and this forum.


james 06-09-2006 03:25 PM


Thanks for that. Lying down inside those ovens was an incredible experience. It was like I was channeling back 2,000 years. The floor was made from 2" round floor pieces, with a texture almost exactly like the Artigiano oven floor pieces. The floor was set in sand and clay. The dome was coated with a thin layer of mortar. They were insulated with a mixture of expanded clay or volcanic ash. A terracotta chimney system directly above the door opening. Everything except the Insulfrax. :) It has really stayed with me -- heck, it led to the oven plans and our user group.

I was there inside the ovens long enough and made enough of a spectacle of myself that I definitely embarassed the kids. So that worked.

There are also ancient ovens in Naples, and folks at the Pizzaiolo school have said they will take me to see them next time I'm there.


captain 11-29-2006 10:58 AM

Awsome photos these realy make me want to finish mine,thanks for all your input of information

jv17 07-31-2008 06:31 AM

Re: Ancient Roman Oven Photos
i saw the's classic..and that oven is still working's really hard to preserve an oven like that..

badzy 08-03-2008 10:18 PM

Re: Ancient Roman Oven Photos
the oven looked like a cave

luca 12-16-2008 03:26 PM

Re: Ancient Roman Oven Photos
Great stuff!!! These wood fired ovens have certainly been around for a long time, but it's my understanding that the Pizza wasn't "invented" until after Columbus came back with the tomato from the New World! Can it be that the Italians simply used their pre-existing bread ovens to bake the "new" concoction?!! 09-04-2009 01:56 PM

Re: Ancient Roman Oven Photos
Those pics are great. Was it in Pompeii or Herculaneum? Herc is so cool, with such a 'live' atmosphere, I can see how pizzas would fit into that picture perfectly.

rblanchette 12-14-2009 07:21 AM

Re: Ancient Roman Oven Photos
Beautiful pix, thanks!

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