Wednesday, July 17, 2013


A treasure trove of Greek graffiti from the sublime to the sleazy has been found in the İzmir agora during excavation work in that city in Turkey. The graffiti shows daily life in the Hellenistic and Roman periods in the birth land of Antinous.

The graffiti is estimated to date back to the 2nd Century AD. Experts have said it constitutes the richest single find of Greek graffiti in the world.

Besides writing and paintings done with paint, there are also dozens of often lurid carvings on the wall.

The graffiti shows that İzmir was very tolerant even in ancient times. The scrawled doodles on the walls along the lines of "Greetings from ..." mention the names of many cities, showing visitors came from a wide range of other cultures.

A vast panoply of figures was drawn, from trade ships to gladiators.

There are also confessions and statements on life. One reads, "I love someone who does not love me."

Another says, "The gods healed my eyes, this is why I dedicate an oil lamp to the gods."

Another piece of graffiti reads, "The one who ensouls," a reference to a deity such as Dionysus or Antinous who holds out the promise of life after death ... or it possibly referred to the upstart religion of Christianity.

There are also riddles that have not yet been solved on the walls.

Professor Cumhur Tanrıver said İzmir has the most Greek graffiti in the world.

"There are some examples of graffiti under the plaster as well that we cannot prepare yet," he said. "We are having talks with Swiss experts to uncover them without damaging the ones on the top layer."

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