Scratching the Surface

Sophie Hay

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I am sure this title has been used a dozen times in discussion of graffiti but I really mean it. I, along with the ancient graffiti artists, am only scratching the surface and this is not intended as a scholarly investigation on graffiti; just a brief muse on the subject as I have witnessed quite a lot recently, scored onto the surface of ancient monuments in Sudan. Perhaps this is more a name and shame than anything else.

I hate modern graffiti, although I do admit to having an enormous soft spot for the genius of Banksy. I am full of contradiction as I also adore ancient Roman graffiti and have spent time researching the scribbled messages on the walls of the Roman houses in Pompeii that I am studying for my PhD. The often rude and jovial comments etched on the walls of the houses are a wonderful way…

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