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 complements traditional, text-based search engines, allowing different types of searches that focus on characteristics specific to ancient handwritten inscriptions, or graffiti.
You can search for graffiti by their location, clicking directly on a map of the city or searching by city-block, or
You can search specifically for figural graffiti (graffiti drawings), browsing all examples or choosing the category of drawing that interests you, or
You can combine searches with our filters, choosing from a number of search options (including Language, Property Type, or Writing Style).