Watch video: What is Panis Quadratus? A Kolkata-based outlet recreates this 2,000 year old bread



Many people have seen images of carbonised loaves of bread that were excavated from Pompeii, Herculaneum, and other settlements in the Bay of Naples (Italy). These were destroyed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Image of carbonised Panis Quadratus excavated at Villa Regina, courtesy


Kolkata-based Spencer’s has prepared this Roman bread that was popular in Pompeii, almost 2000 years ago. All over the world, there has been huge interest in the carbonized loaves excavated from Pompeii.

People have wondered and researched how the original Pompeiian bread might have tasted, the ingredients that went into the making of the loaves, and why the sectioned bread was called Panis Quadratus. It is named so because of the four linear ‘cuts’ made to the loaf, creating eight evenly distributed sections that were cut into the loaf before baking.

Pompeii residents were known to love their bread – it was part of their daily diet and bread-bakers were said to be powerful people in Roman society. Bread was prepared daily in homes, but mostly in bakeries. Ingredients included flour, whole-wheat flour, tepid water, salt and other spices. It took about an hour to prepare and cooking time was about 30 minutes.

Want to bake the Panis Quadratus? Here’s the recipe.

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