Historical Graffiti

Pre-20th century inscriptions, figure drawings, etc. that have been scratched into walls and which can be identified and seen today.

Connected Sites

Site Rationale Link
Acropolis Parthenon: early Christian graffiti
Amphitheater of El Jem Its walls are full of graffiti, most fairly recent but also from the 19th century such as "Laporie 1896" and "P. Leschi 1885".
Ancient Thebes The tomb of Ramesses VI in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings contains inscriptions from visitors up to 2,000 years ago, including a text saying "I can not read the hieroglyphs!"
Aphrodisias "graffiti were primarily made by artists and workers who visited the theater, the stadium, and the markets with their implements"
Australian Convict Sites Great North Road - Graffiti from 1830s. "35 pieces, including many initials, arrow, ship, the word MAD DOG followed by 'spell it backwards'"
Baalbek Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek, tourists and local visitors — left in both Arabic and Latin script
Brú na Bóinne "There is evidence to show that Newgrange was plundered by Danish raiders about the year 860. Graffiti in the tomb dates back to the 7th century, a subject of great interest to historians." At Knowth as well. Also: Newgrange was re-discovered in 1699, visitors scratched their names.
Caves of Maresha and Bet Guvrin Beth Guvrin - ships graffiti in Maresha
City of Luxembourg At the Casemates
Edinburgh Edinburgh Castle, by 18th century Prisoners of War
Ephesus Ancient Roman inscription, presumably directions to a nearby brothel
Florence Michelangelo’s Graffiti: face of a man, claimed to be created by the sculptor Michelangelo,
Frontiers of the Roman Empire Hadrian's Wall, Written Rock of Gelt: Roman quarry inscriptions
Gebel Barkal William Arnold Bromfield, Letters from Egypt, London 1856, p. 122 (Gebel Berkel): "We found very few memorials of European travellers upon these pyramids, so we held ourselves excused in gratifying the national predilection for this way of acquiring immortality, by carving our names enclosed in an oval or cartouche, and each name again separately on different pyramids. Mine. I cut at full length, and in large roman letters, with month and year, inside one of the porches, the roof of which was badly painted with lotus wreaths, just over the name of PRINCE PUCKLER MUSKAU, who has left no memorial of the date of his visit."
Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago French 19th Century graffiti in Hang Dau Go
Istanbul Runic inscriptions in Hagia Sophia, made by members of the Varangian Guard in Constantinople in the Viking Age.
Loire Valley At Chambord: names and dates, boats. Includes inscriptions made by the poet Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695) and the writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885).
Mammoth Cave Civil War-era signatures
Mantua and Sabbioneta At Pallazo Té, in the Sala dei Giganti, graffiti from visitors (and imperial troops who used the palace as barracks) as early as the 17th century can be seen
Maulbronn Monastery Graffiti carved into the stone from seminary students over the past centuries
Megalithic Temples of Malta model of a temple scratched on a wall in the temple of Hagar Qim
Meroe Great Enclosure at Musawwarat es-Sufra: visitors have left their mark, including the French adventurer Frederic Cailliaud in 1821 (Sudan Bradt Guide). As well from the Meroitc period and the younger post-Meroitic, Christian and Islamic periods
Naumburg Cathedral From the 17th century
Necropolis of Bet She'arim Incised and painted inscriptions in Hebrew, Aramaic, Palmyrene, and Greek: "Geographical references in inscriptions on the walls of the catacombs reveal that the necropolis was used by people from the town of Beit She'arim, from elsewhere in Galilee, and even from cities as far away as Palmyra and Tyre." (wiki)
Neolithic Orkney Maes Howe: "The 30 inscriptions found in Maeshowe, make it one of the largest, and most famous, collections of runes known in Europe"
Nubian Monuments "Graffiti inscribed on the southern pair by Greek mercenaries serving Egypt in the 6th century BCE have provided important evidence of the early history of the Greek alphabet". Also Victorian graffiti.
Old City of Jerusalem Crusader graffiti in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Olympia At the tunnel walls before entering the track, made by athletes
Palenque Some go back to the early 19th century
Palmyra Graffiti in Arabic, including the phrase “This is an inscription that I wrote with my own hand. My hand will wear out but the inscription will remain.”
Persepolis Over the years, many travelers left their mark on the ruins in the form of graffiti, including ... Henry Morton Stanley. The foreign graffiti are concentrated in two particular spots, namely Xerxes’ Gate of All Nations and the Palace of Darius.
Pompei Over 11,000 graffiti samples have been uncovered in the excavations of Pompeii, which "often offer rich insight into the lives of the city’s residents".
Pont du Gard 19th century graffiti (f.e. some Jean in 1830) is scratched into the main aquaduct at the level of the footbridge
Prague Ball Game Hall, Old Town Town Hall
Provins Underground galleries
Pyramids (Memphis) Great Pyramid: by the labourers who constructed the Pyramids, by visiting Romans
Quirigua Stele A has dates (among them 1881) and names
Rome Catacombs: Renaissance-era graffiti and Early Christian funeral graffiti
San Antonio Missions In the Alamo (from the 19th century)
Sigiriya Ancient tourists visiting the 5th-century citadel at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka scribbled over 1800 individual graffiti there between the 6th and 18th centuries. Etched on the surface of the Mirror Wall, they contain pieces of prose, poetry, and commentary. (wiki)
Stonehenge From as early as the 16th century (see link).
Strasbourg Strasbourg Cathedral's Antique Graffiti
Tikal National Park By Mayan occupants and 19th century explorers
Timgad A Latin inscription, with a typographical error, chiseled into the stone steps surrounding the Forum square reads: “To hunt, bathe, play [games or gambling?], to laugh. That is life!".
Tower of London Graffiti by prisoners
Venice and its Lagoon Piraeus Lion, one of four lion statues on display at the Venetian Arsenal, with two lengthy runic inscriptions into its shoulders and flanks: "at some point in the 11th century travelling Vikings had carved the runes as a form of graffiti"
Villa Adriana (Tivoli) By 18th century visitors, such as "the legendary architect/etcher Piranesi scribbled Piranesi 1741 into a grotto at Hadrian's Villa with a red crayon"
Vézère Valley At the Font de Gaume cave, some prehistoric paintings are covered with carvings from early visitors
Wartburg Castle Graffiti from the Middle Ages on a door in Wartburg Castle. Also graffiti (a signature in Cyrillic) left by Peter the Great in the room where Luther translated the bible.
Westminster Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey: "Most of the graffiti on the back part of the Chair is the result of Westminster schoolboys and visitors carving their names in the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the tourists carved "P. Abbott slept in this chair 5-6 July 1800" on the seat."
Yuso and Suso Monasteries Suso: "the walls of the atrium are covered with graffiti written by pilgrims and monks in the 11th and 12th Centuries".


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