Do you use non-stick pans? Then you're certainly not alone as even the ancient Romans had them too perhaps to cook some chicken stew.

Stefano Iavarone, Giovanni Borriello, and Marco Giglio of the University of Naples have discovered broken pieces of centuries-old factory or non-stick pans in Cumae, the first Greek colony in the country's mainland and home of the prophetess Sibyl, reported Archaeology on March 28.

Called Cumanae patellae or Cumanae testae (pans from the city of Cumae), the cookware was believed to have been mentioned in one of the earliest cookbooks of the Roman world entitled "De re coquinaria" or "On the Subject of Cooking," which was a regular fixture in many of the homes.

However, these pans weren't found in a kitchen in the ruins but rather in a dumpsite that sits close to where the factory used to be. It must have been a massive dumpsite too since they found not just one but over 50,000 fragments with a red non-stick coat. Aside from pans, the pieces also belonged to other kitchen utensils like lids and pots.

"Finding a dump like this one is an archeologist's dream," said Giglio. First, this proved that the old cookware, which can be traced back to the times of Emperors Tiberius and Augustus, were definitely produced in the city.

Further, when the quality of the pans was compared to similar-looking cookware found in the historical city of Pompeii, the researchers learned that they had better quality. This may explain why the city was the main production center for the non-stick pans that were later distributed and used in Europe and North Africa.

It may take a while before they could sort everything out — only 10 percent of the factory site had been excavated — but the team is hopeful that they could learn more about how the cookware was produced and even "reconstruct the way the pottery was manufactured," he further added.

These pans are the not only ones found in dumpsites, though. In Rome, one can find Monte Testaccio (Mount of Shards, an artificial "hill" made up of nothing but amphoras, containers usually made of ceramic that were used as storage for perishables and wine.

The amphoras were brought by ships carrying goods like olive oil. Since these containers were easy to mass-produce and were cheap, vessels didn't have to bring them back but instead threw them away in the dumpsite.

Photo: Carole Raddato | Flickr

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