Graffiti is forever! This is a funny article about ancient Jewish graff:
Researchers in the field have uncovered related messages ranging from “Lasius is a pervert” to “Good luck in your resurrection.”
“You will come to an evil end if you rob this grave” and “My beloved was here” ranked among the most popular messages for graffiti writers in ancient Jewish communities.
Starting some 3,000 years ago, Jews scratched walls at homes and public spaces with prayers, warnings, blessings on deceased relatives, and store advertisements. They even used graffiti to mark rows of theater seats that were reserved for Jewish groups. In the margins of the texts, they sketched outlines of ships, people, menorahs, and synagogue columns.
Carving the letters and images “required time, diligence, steadfastness, and a degree of pain tolerance,” Karen B. Stern, an assistant professor at Brooklyn College, observes in her new book, Writing on the Wall: Graffiti and the Forgotten Jews of Antiquity. As the graffiti artists hammered away at doorways, pillars or cliffs, she writes, “powders and fragments would cover one’s face and fill one’s lungs with dust; hardened dirt, rock, and plaster could push back and split fingernails; and carving implements, including metal nails, blades, and stones, surely drew blood when the lighting faded or surfaces grew unwieldy.”
She has documented graffiti written by Jews, dating back as early as the 8th century B.C., at archaeological sites from modern-day Croatia to the Persian Gulf. Clusters survive at the Dura-Europos synagogue in eastern Syria, El‐Kanaïs in Egypt along the Nile near Aswan, the Beit Shearim necropolis in northern Israel and the Aphrodisias ruins in western Turkey. They come in a babel of languages, including Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Lihyanite, and Nabataean. Some people who carved the walls were clearly uneducated, while others used neat handwriting that indicates elite upbringings. Interspersed are markings from non-Jewish neighbors: pagan sayings, Byzantine crosses, and praise for Allah.
Dr. Stern notes that for countries that have been torn apart by religious strife, and places where hardly any Jews live anymore, the graffiti now serves as evidence of past centuries of peaceable coexistence. Privileged and ordinary people of many faiths all had the same habit of emblazoning their names, interests and accomplishments on the walls. Decoding the inscriptions, Dr. Stern says, sheds light on those who left few other traces on the sands of time: “It’s about paying attention to voices that have otherwise been drowned out.”