Romans Had Teflon, Archaeologists Say

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April 3, 2016

Nonstick technology is older than most people think – much older. In fact, it dates to Roman times.

Archaeologists digging near the ancient Roman city of Cumae, which once stood not far from where Naples does now, have found proof of a long-held but until now unproven claim that Roman cooking technology included an ancient form of teflon.

A few journals and cookbooks from Roman times mention a sort of red-slip coating that prevents food from sticking to what it is being cooked in; one cookbook in particular, known as De Re Coquinaria, mentions the cookware as being particularly advantageous when cooking beef stew or chicken stew. However, proof of these assertions had not been found.

A team of archaeologists from the University of Naples found, in a large area that would have, back then, been what modern midden experts would call a garbage dump, about 50,000 shards of cookery equipment, including pots, pans, and lids. The sizes and shapes and thicknesses of the shards varied, but they all had the same red-slip coating mentioned in the ancient texts.

The digging team has concluded that the pottery dates to the 1st Century B.C. and the 1st Century A.D.

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