The Ancient Graffiti Project purposes to preserve and make accessible the ancient Latin and Greek graffiti of Pompeii and Herculaneum by digitizing it for the global community. This graffiti provides insight into the mindsets of the common people of these cities whose voices are otherwise lost in the literature of the time. The ancient Romans scratched into the plaster walls their thoughts, records of business transactions, the name of their beloved, advertisements for the latest gladiator games, lines of misquoted poetry, and drawings of anything from ships to stags. The plaster on these walls is deteriorating quickly with age due to exposure to the elements and tourists touching first-century walls. Using previous compiled notes, such as the CIL, and strategic searching, the research team documented the graffiti by taking pictures of it and recording where each graffiti was located. Detailed measurements were also taken of each letter of the graffiti. Using the Morpholoio Trace on IPad, we created tracings of the graffiti to distinguish the disintegrating letters. Then the data was collected and uploaded to the Ancient Graffiti Search Engine. This search engine both preserves the graffiti and makes them more easily accessible to a curious public or academia.
Arianna Jepsen is a sophomore Neuroscience and Classics double major from Washington and Lee University. She was part of the Herculaneum Graffiti 2016 project under the direction of Washington and Lee professor Rebecca Benefiel. In Italy, along with the team, she collected data on ancient graffiti and studied different aspects of the ancient world. For the rest of the summer she analyzed the flourishes and average sizes of individual letters to look for trends. Outside interests include art, running, and Jane Austin literature.
Nathan Brewer is a sophomore Classics major from Washington and Lee University. He journeyed to Southern Italy during the summer of his sophomore year as part of the Herculaneum Graffiti Project, a team working in the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum lead by Washington and Lee Professor Rebecca Benefiel, with whom he continued to do research on ancient Latin graffiti throughout the summer. Beyond classics, Nathan enjoys running, poetry, anything by William Shakespeare, the smell of old books, and tea.
Lilly MacDonald is also a team member.