Ancient graffiti has been found all over the world, proving that mankind has wanted to etch his or her mark as long as we have existed. It makes sense that people would leave little notes-like "Shelly Loves Steven"-but study of ancient graffiti art shows us that average people left other kinds of marks as well. Typical ancient graffiti shows the recording of sales transactions, pictures etched in boredom and drawings and words of frustration and personal expression, much like the graffiti we see today.
Ancient Greek Graffiti
In many of the temples of ancient Greece, travelers marvel at not only masterpieces and massive structures, but also at ancient graffiti. Words written in ancient Greek are found on temple walls and inside ruins, preserved along with the pictures etched into the stone. For an example of graffiti etched into the Temple of Apollo at Didymus, click on the link here. If you look carefully, you can see the sketch of a man with a shield and a weapon, an animal of sorts and Greek words.
Ancient Viking Graffiti
One example of interesting Viking graffiti is a marking in a church building written in Viking runes. The etching says, "Halvdan was here." Since Vikings were not Christians, most historians have interpreted this graffiti as a thumbing of at least one Viking nose at the exclusivity of Christianity during that time period. To see this interesting piece of graffiti, click here.
Ancient Mayan Graffiti
You can find scores of graffiti of many levels of intricacy if you visit the Mayan temples in Tikal, Guatemala. Some of the graffiti on the temple walls is ornate and obviously took a lot of work, while other walls appear scratched or simply marked. Were those etchings meant as records of sales or days passing or debts to be paid? Were the decorative etchings commissioned or were they the artwork of rogue graffiti artists? Archeologists speculate, but no one knows for certain.
Want to learn how to draw graffiti? You too can decorate an over-sized mural with your personal message.
Check out the many different styles of graffiti art that go beyond a wall and a can of spray paint.