Archaeologists in Greece Find Some of the World's Oldest Erotic Graffiti | Smart News | Smithsonian

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Archaeologists in Greece Find Some of the World's Oldest Erotic Graffiti

About 2,500 years ago, ancient Greeks were boasting of their sexual conquests in long-lasting graffiti

smithsonian.com

On a rocky outcrop of Astypalaia, a Greek island in Aegean Sea, archaeologists have found a bit of 2,500 year old graffiti that has a particular distinction—it's one of the oldest pieces of erotic graffiti anyone's ever found. The inscriptions are of a rather scandalous nature: they feature penises and phrases celebrating the carvers’ sexual conquests.

One of the inscriptions, reports the Guardian, reads "Νικασίτιμος οφε Τιμίονα"—"Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona."

From the Guardian:

"We know that in ancient Greece sexual desire between men was not a taboo," added Dr Vlachopoulos, who returned to the far-flung island last week to resume work with a team of topographers, photographers, conservationists and students. "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, emphasising the sexual act in a way that is highly unusual in erotic artwork. "

This wasn't the only graffiti found at the site; other carvings depicted ships and spirals representing waves. The presence of writing at the site indicates that literacy was not unusual on the island around the 5th and 6th centuries B.C.

The phallic graffiti is certainly one of the earlier known drawings of phalluses, but there are plenty of examples of erotic art that date back far earlier. A stone artifact found in Israel last year was determined to be a carved penis over 6,000 years old. And the Venus of Hohle Fels, an ivory statuette thought to be the oldest example of erotic art, is somewhere between 35,000 and 45,000 years old. 

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