Oldest Known Erotic 'Graffiti' Found in Greece

Phalluses, sexual boasting dating back to 5th century BC leave little to the imagination
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2014 4:03 AM CDT
Oldest Known Erotic 'Graffiti' Found in Greece
Tourists admire the Aegean, which is home to the island of Astypalaia.   (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)

(Newser) – Think phallic graffiti art exclusively belongs to the baseless present? Think again. An archaeologist has uncovered what the Guardian touts as the earliest erotic graffiti on the planet, found in Greece—and predating, in one case, even Athens' Acropolis. Since 2011, Dr. Andreas Vlachopoulos has been directing fieldwork on the Aegean island of Astypalaia, and the professor may have given the students working with him a little more insight than he'd at first intended when he happened upon extremely explicit erotica chiseled into the limestone rocks that line the cape. In one instance, dating back to 5th century BC, two gigantic penises are etched next to the name Dion; in another, dating to 6th century BC, one man boasted: "Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona."

"We know that in ancient Greece sexual desire between men was not a taboo," Vlachopoulos tells the Guardian. "But this graffiti … is not just among the earliest ever discovered. By using the verb in the past continuous [tense], it clearly says that these two men were making love over a long period of time, emphasizing the sexual act in a way that is highly unusual in erotic artwork." One theory is that soldiers were once stationed at this outpost overlooking the bay; other carvings include that of ships, daggers, and wave-symbolizing spirals. Either way Astypalaia, best known for what Archaeology International called "the largest ancient children’s cemetery in the world," with at least 2,700 infant burials identified in one place, can now add ancient porn among its claims to fame. (Meanwhile, in Italy, art restorers have been accused of scrubbing away the erotic...)

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