Ancient Pompeii’s Hidden Messages, Preserved in Graffiti | Jacqueline DiBiasie-Sammons | TED | Summary and Q&A

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Ancient Pompeii’s Hidden Messages, Preserved in Graffiti | Jacqueline DiBiasie-Sammons | TED

TL;DR

This content explores the ancient graffiti found in Pompeii, revealing the thoughts and lives of ordinary Romans and what it can teach us about ourselves.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What was the purpose of the graffiti found in Pompeii?

The graffiti in Pompeii served as a way for people to communicate with each other, record observations, and leave messages in the absence of inexpensive writing tools like paper. They were a form of social media or wall posts, similar to today's tweets or Snapchat.

Q: How did the Pompeiians write their graffiti?

The Pompeiians typically scratched their graffiti into the wall plaster using a sharp instrument like a stylus or a nail. The word "graffiti" comes from the Italian word meaning "scratched," coined by 19th century archaeologists when they encountered the scratched graffiti of Pompeii.

Q: Who were the main authors of the graffiti in Pompeii?

The graffiti in Pompeii were written by a wide variety of people, including those who were marginalized from the literary record, such as women and the enslaved. They provided valuable evidence for the thoughts and words of ordinary Romans who may not have been represented in other historical records.

Q: What did the graffiti tell us about the lives of the Romans?

The graffiti allowed us to gain insights into the thoughts, actions, and daily lives of ordinary Romans. They provided a glimpse into what made them human, showcasing their emotions, desires, and experiences. Through studying Roman graffiti, we can learn a lot about ourselves and our shared humanity.

Q: How did the Pompeiians write graffiti elegantly?

The Pompeiians valued writing graffiti beautifully. While some graffiti were hastily scratched, others were written with flourish and elegance. For example, they accentuated their messages with boxes or branches, used Roman cursive with large flourishes and elegant letter forms, or even drew elaborate drawings alongside their writings. Writing beautifully on the walls was a way for them to express themselves and leave a lasting impression.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Graffiti was common in ancient Pompeii, where people would write messages and draw pictures on walls to share news and communicate with others.

  • Ancient graffiti provide valuable insights into the lives and thoughts of ordinary Romans, including marginalized groups like women and enslaved individuals.

  • The graffiti in Pompeii were written in a variety of styles, using different materials such as charcoal and chalk, and often displayed creativity and playfulness.

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