Earliest known erotic graffiti found on an Aegean island
A Greek archaeologist has discovered a set of ancient erotic graffiti on a stone on the Aegean island of Astypalaia, believed to date back more than 2,500 years. Engravings of phalluses and inscriptions detailing racy sexual encounters between two men shed light on the private lives of those who inhabited ancient Greece, according to a news report in The Guardian.
Astypalaia belongs to an island group of twelve major islands in the southeastern Aegean Sea and is home to just 1,300 residents. The island is steeped in history; it has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and has seen occupation by the Carians, Minoans, Venetians, Turks, Italians, British, and Germans, until it was finally integrated in Greece in 1948.
Dr Andreas Vlachopoulos, a specialist in prehistoric archaeology, was conducting fieldwork on the island of Astypalaia when he discovered the erotic art and words chiselled into dolomite limestone on the rocky peninsula at Vathy. Dr Vlachopoulos explained that he was in no doubt as to what the images were intended to represent.
"They were what I would call triumphant inscriptions," said the Princeton-trained professor who found them while introducing students to the ancient island world of the Aegean. "They claimed their own space in large letters that not only expressed sexual desire but talked about the act of sex itself," he told the Guardian. "And that is very, very rare."
Erotic graffiti found on Astypalaia. Photograph: Helena Smith
Two penises were engraved into the limestone along with the inscription: "Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona” (Νικασίτιμος οἶφε Τιμίονα). Dr Vlachopoulos explained that in the Greek language the use of the past continuous tense suggests that the lover’s tryst did not just occur on one occasion but that the two men were regularly meeting at that spot.
Based on the presence of other carvings, such as oared ships, daggers, waves of the sea, and spirals, which reflect the style of early Cycladic art, the archaeologist estimates that the inscriptions date to around the fifth or sixth century BC.
Dr Vlachopoulos said that the inscriptions have provided invaluable insight into the private lives of those who inhabited archaic and classical Greece.
Featured image: The Greek island of Astypalaia. Photo source.