Children’s Graffiti Depicting Gladiators Found in Pompeii

Children’s Graffiti Depicting Gladiators
Archaeologists found children’s graffiti depicting gladiators in Pompeii. Credit: Pompeii Archaeological Park

Archaeologists digging in Pompeii recently found examples of ancient graffiti. They appear to have been drawn by children and depict fights between gladiators and other scenes.

These drawings were discovered in different spots around Pompeii. One of the important discoveries was situated in Casa del Cenacolo Colonnato.

There, archaeologists found drawings made with charcoal by children, probably right before Mount Vesuvius erupted. These drawings show scenes of Roman gladiators, which probably were influenced by the violent shows the children saw at the nearby amphitheater, as reported by Archaeology Mag.

Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the Director of Pompeii Archaeological Park, explained, “Together with psychologists from the Federico II [university of Naples], we have come to the conclusion that the drawings of gladiators and hunters were made based on a direct vision, and not of pictorial models. They had probably witnessed battles in the amphitheater, thus coming into contact with an extreme form of spectacularised violence.”

Zuchtriegel stressed that the violent drawings might have affected the mental health and growth of the young Pompeii residents for a long time.

More drawings of small hands found at Insula dei Casti Amanti

More findings came from a locale called Insula dei Casti Amanti, another group of houses in Pompeii. They found more drawings there, depicting outlines of small hands, people playing with a ball, hunting scenes, and pictures of gladiators.

A humbling feeling to have witnessed firsthand the discovery of some of these charcoal drawings thought to be the handiwork of children in #Pompeii.
The stick figures hunting and fighting across the walls are wonderful but it’s the outlines of hands that are especially touching🖐🏿

— Dr Sophie Hay (@pompei79) May 29, 2024

These simple drawings, thought to be about 2,000 years old, show men with spears and shields fighting wild animals and each other.

The simple style and naive strokes of the graffiti suggest that children, probably around five or six years old, made them. Despite their basic look, the drawings show a strong sense of storytelling and motion. They portray complete scenes, from pre-battle preparation to victory after the gladiatorial contest.

Gabriel Zuchtriegel remarked, “Evidently it is an anthropological constant that is independent of artistic and cultural fashions.”

The excavations also revealed the remains of two victims of the eruption, underscoring the tragic fate of Pompeii’s residents in 79 CE.

Last month, archaeologists revealed a beautiful artwork showing Helen of Troy, famous for her beauty in Greek mythology, meeting Paris, the prince of Troy, for the first time.

With about a third of the city still buried under volcanic ash, archaeologists expect to make more discoveries as they continue to explore this remarkable site.

Starting on May 28, 2024, visitors can access the excavation site daily from 10:30 AM to 6:00 PM. The site now features an “accessible” route called “Pompeii for All,” which is designed to be free of architectural barriers.

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