The nonstick frying pan is easily one of the most clutch items in one's home culinary arsenal. They may seem like a recent invention, but nonstick pans date back over 2,000 years to the Roman Empire. Italian archaeologists recently discovered a production site for forerunner nonstick pans, bearing internal red-slip coatings, just outside of Naples, Italy. Discovery details the unearthing of these pan fragments.

The cookware was known as “Cumanae testae” or “Cumanae patellae,” (pans from the city of Cumae) and was mentioned in the first-century Roman cookbook De Re Coquinaria as the most suitable pans for making chicken stews. However, the pans from Cumae remained a mystery until 1975, when Giuseppe Pucci, archaeologist and professor of history of Greek and Roman art, attempted an identification. Pucci proposed that a pottery commonly known as Pompeian Red Ware which featured a heavy red-slip coating in the inside, was the “Cumanae testae” from historical sources.

Now Marco Giglio, Giovanni Borriello and Stefano Iavarone, archaeologists at the University of Naples “L’Orientale,” have found evidence in Cumae to support Pucci’s identification. “We found a dump site filled with internal red-slip cookware fragments. The dumping was used by a pottery factory. This shows for the first time the Cumanae patellae were indeed produced in this city,” Giglio told Discovery News.

Head over to Discovery to read more.

Feature image via Marco Giglio