Posted on Apr 9, 2012 in Other stuff, Travel
My grandmother says graffiti wasn’t commonplace when she was growing up, and wasn’t really a problem until the 1960s. Could that actually be true?
While the sixties saw many changes in people’s behavior — the counterculture movement not least among them — graffiti was nothing new. In fact, writing and drawing where you’re not supposed to has been a popular pastime for thousands of years (tens of thousands, if you consider prehistoric cave drawings a form of graffiti).
Proof of ancient graffiti has been found on archaeological digs and excavations in several different countries around the globe. These messages from across the ages have been scratched into plaster, etched into rock, and painted on a variety of surfaces.
Some of the most entertaining messages from yester-millenia come from the era when Rome was in its heyday. In southern Italy, the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried by Mount Vesuvius’ devastating eruption in 79 AD. Among the ruins, however, there was more discovered than just incredible artifacts and hollow spaces where bodies once were.
On the walls of the small city — preserved for nearly two thousand years — were lots of sex, booze and poop references… along with proclamations of love, thievery, jealousy and other tidings of human nature. Some (translated) scrawlings from the walls of Pompeii were compiled by pompeiana.org:
In the Julian-Claudian gladiators’ barracks: Celadus the Thracian gladiator is the delight of all the girls
In a house’s atrium: If anyone does not believe in Venus, they should gaze at my girlfriend
In a latrine: Secundus defecated here (written three times on one wall)
At an inn: We have wet the bed, host. I confess we have done wrong. If you want to know why, there was no chamber pot.
In the basilica (which served as a courthouse & banking center): Chie, I hope your hemorrhoids rub together so much that they hurt worse than than they ever have before!
On the exterior of a small house: Gaius Sabinus says a fond hello to Statius. Traveler, you eat bread in Pompeii but you go to Nuceria to drink. At Nuceria, the drinking is better.
In the basilica: O walls, you have held up so much tedious graffiti that I am amazed that you have not already collapsed in ruin.
(This is almost enough to make me want to learn Latin — just so I can read this stuff in its original form.)
Want to find out more about the scrawlings of the ancients? Check out what archaeologists and scholars have discovered in Egypt, England, Israel, Armenia, Italy and even the USA.
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