Ancient Graffiti

Temple of Seti I at Abydos, probablySekhmet, the lion goddess
Some graffiti historians believe that markings making a statement, message or sign can trace their origin to prehistoric times, up to 30,000 BCE. However, this is likely a stretch of the imagination when we don't even know that much about the motives of the mark makers in a period when there was no writing. Scratchings and incised lines on cave and rock shelter walls along with red ochre, manganese and chalk images are probably not meant as propaganda; they may have had some spiritual meaning in the way that a shaman would represent a :vision quest" of some sort.  Circa 3000 BCE in some parts of the world - writing started with pictographs and then around 1900-1700 BCE actual writing can be deciphered. More often, images such as the one above confer  the idea of poking fun of a situation or person. They aren't dated which makes it difficult to assess. However, one can imagine a rebellious teenage Egyptian boy marking up the temple of the Pharaoh Seti I with his crude drawing of Sekhmet, lioness goddess and devourer of evil.

By the time of the ancient Egyptians, graffiti - by definition, from the Greek word "graphein" which means to scratch, write or draw." In Roman times, the Latin word for graffiti was "graffiti" which meant a scribbling though their "street art" included images, many of which were pornographic to modern eyes. The ancient Greeks have several examples of graffiti in entry tunnels to their stadiums such as the one at Nemea. "Akrotatis is beautiful" written by an admirer with someone else adding "to the one who wrote it"


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