Ancient Graffiti Project

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The Ancient Graffiti Project


  • Rebecca Benefiel, Project Director
  • Sara Sprenkle, Technical Director
  • Holly Sypniewski, Assistant Director


Aims and scope

The project website defines graffiti as "handwritten inscriptions that have been incised or scratched into wall-plaster".

The project presents newly curated digital editions and contextual data for ancient graffiti from the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. It aims to provide scholars with a flexible digital tool to search these handwritten inscriptions in their spatial context. Thus, the project spans epigraphy and archaeology.

Both textual and figural graffiti (hand-sketched drawings) are available.

More than 1600 ancient graffiti are now searchable. These include all 300+ ancient graffiti from Herculaneum and more than 900 inscriptions from Pompeii (from the Lupanar, Insula I.8, the theater district, the Campus/Palestra beside the amphitheater, and other locations).

The recently discovered ancient graffiti from ancient Smyrna are also now available at AGP.

Search platform

The project website provides a sophisticated search engine that allows users to conduct a range of queries, including searches based on the location of the graffiti ("Search by Map"), by the type of property (e.g. public building, house, workshop), category of drawing (e.g. animals, boats, geometric designs), writing style, content of the inscription, and more.


The epigraphical database and the search platform are interoperable with the EAGLE epigraphic database, the EDR (Epigraphic Database Roma) and the EAGLE Europeana Network.