May 8, 2011

Pompeii. September, 1984

For those who think of graffiti as a modern phenomenon, they have only to look at the risqué leavings from antiquity to be quickly disabused of that misguided notion. Not only have tourists been leaving their marks for centuries, but take a gander at this item, carved into a basalt cobblestone and found among the ancient excavations of Pompeii. Actually, this functioned as a directional signal in that Roman town near Naples before the two-day eruption of nearby Vesuvius in 79 AD buried it (for some 1,600 years) with ash and pumice. It pointed, appropriately enough, to the city’s official brothel, whose restored frescoes (which suggest the building’s use) continue to entertain close to two-and-one-half million visitors each year...though not in the same way the building’s original visitors were entertained.

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