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Pompeii graffiti. Source: Niklas / Adobe Stock.

Pompeii's Graffiti: An Ancient Form of Social Media (Video)


Archaeologist Dr. Catherine Huntley's work unveils the ancient walls of Pompeii as repositories of historical insights. In contemporary times, graffiti often carries a negative connotation, associated with urban decay. However, in antiquity, when parchment and paper were scarce, graffiti became a vital means of communication and self-expression. Through her research, Huntley delves into the world of ancient tagging, where individuals left their mark. An example of this is someone called Faustus, who etched his name into the wall, or the intriguing "array Elias" inscribed below. This form of communication mirrors today's texting and social media in its intent – connecting people.

Amongst these inscriptions, a fascinating find emerges, presumably the handiwork of a young child. These intricate etchings, similar across various times and cultures, shed light on cognitive development. The emphasis on the head signifies a child's unique perspective, while radiating patterns reflect their inherent curiosity. Furthermore, the location of these graffiti pieces suggests an active lifestyle for Pompeii's children. More than half of these markings appear in public spaces, indicating a rich, communal childhood experience, dispelling the notion of confinement within domestic spaces. Pompeii's walls whisper the tales of its residents, bridging the temporal gap between their world and ours.

Top image: Pompeii graffiti. Source: Niklas / Adobe Stock.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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