The news: Well, it turns out juvenile delinquents with a penchant for dirty graffiti have been around for longer than you might think.
Four years ago, archaeologist Andreas Vlachopoulos started fieldwork in Astypalaia, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. But it wasn't until recently that he made what might be his strangest discovery yet: Racy inscriptions and phallic drawings from the fifth and sixth centuries B.C. chiseled into limestone and preserved for millennia show what may be the oldest erotic graffiti in the world.
"They were what I would call triumphant inscriptions," Vlachopoulos told the Guardian. "They claimed their own space in large letters that not only expressed sexual desire but talked about the act of sex itself. And that is very, very rare."
While this graffiti is hilarious, it does serve an important purpose. Archaeologists are not studying these ancient scribbles just for kicks. They provide important insight into social mores and customs of the time. For instance, one work from Astypalaia — which reads, "Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona" — offers a frank depiction of homosexuality that is uncommon elsewhere.
"We know that in ancient Greece sexual desire between men was not a taboo," Vlachopoulos said. "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."
And there is more. Though Vlachopoulos's dicovery might mark the oldest NSFW graffiti ever found, ancient porn is surprisingly common, especially in places like Pompeii. The city has been remarkably well-preserved since the volcanic eruption that destroyed it and scholars have been translating all the dirty gossip and boasts. Here are a few examples they found:
1. From the Bar/Brothel of Innulus and Papilio: "Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men's behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity!"
2. From the Herculaneum (a bar/inn joined to the maritime baths): "Two friends were here. While they were, they had bad service in every way from a guy named Epaphroditus. They threw him out and spent 105 and half sestertii most agreeably on whores."
3. Also from the Herculaneum: "Apelles the chamberlain with Dexter, a slave of Caesar, ate here most agreeably and had a screw at the same time."
4. From the peristyle of the Tavern of Verecundus: "Restitutus says: 'Restituta, take off your tunic, please, and show us your hairy privates.'"
You can check out more examples of lewd, ancient graffiti here — just tell yourself that you're getting a history lesson.