The Ancient Graffiti Project: Developing a search engine for studying the graffiti of Herculaneum and Pompeii
Welcome to The Ancient Graffiti Project, a website that provides a search engine for locating and studying graffiti of the early Roman empire from the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Ancient graffiti, inscriptions that have been incised or scratched into wall-plaster, comprise a special branch of epigraphy. They differ from inscriptions on stone in several respects. An inscription on stone may be commemorative, dedicatory, sacred (to name just a few classes of inscription), but in almost all cases forethought has gone into the preparation of the text and the inscribed monument. Graffiti, by contrast, are more often the result of spontaneous composition and are the handwritten creation of the “man on the street.” Since graffiti are scratched into friable wall-plaster, they are more easily perishable, but when they do survive they are almost always found in-situ, unlike many stone inscriptions that have survived to the present day through re-use.
Our search engine allows three different types of searches.
At present, the search engine and database are under construction, so searches are limited to Regio I, Insula 8 in the city of Pompeii. More will be available as the project progresses.
- You can search for graffiti by location, selecting either the pull-down menu, or by clicking on the map, or
- You can search specifically for graffiti drawings by choosing the class of drawing that interests you, or
- You can search for a specific word or phrase and find where it occurs within the ancient city.