Smithsonian Journeys Dispatches

Graffiti - The Urban Artists of Pompeii

The city of Pompeii, with Mount Vesuvius in the background.

That's right, Pompeii. The catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79 buried the city but preserved a unique look at daily life in the ancient world, including its residents' casual scribblings. Since the city's walls and buildings were brightly painted, folks carved their words into them, exposing the white plaster beneath.

According to a recent article in Smithsonian magazine, messages were carved inside and outside homes, public buildings, and the city's walls. This graffiti included friendly greetings, declarations of love, political commentary, poetry, jokes, and good wishes, carved by both the city's elite and it's regular folks.

Read the article and see photos of Pompeii's graffiti here. Or, see it for yourself on these Smithsonian tours that visit Pompeii.