In small scratches forgotten | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 131, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163



We need to rethink graffiti: they are not just words and images but places and things. Using the graffiti of Dura-Europos on the Syrian Euphrates, this paper discusses some of the ways that the unofficial urban texts of antiquity can, when studied in their spatial context as material objects, reveal urban histories which rub against the grain of traditional studies. It explores the ways such seemingly ephemeral marks can be active agents within the urban environment in public, religious, and private contexts. I propose that graffiti can be defined by their immediacy and spatial contingency, and I contend that graffiti have the potential to give new perspectives on the ancient world: they are unmediated traces, stories of daily life, and through them it is possible to explore the ways in which the walls of the city could become active in people’s lives.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Arsacid archaeology; Dura-Europos; graffiti; Roman archaeology; Syria; urban archaeology
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