Gladiator Fights and Much More Revealed in Ancient Graffiti

graffiti-discovery-1Graffiti discovered in the ancient city of Aphrodisias shows gladiator fights between a retiarius (a gladiator armed with a trident and net) and a secutor (gladiator equipped with a sword and shield).

Graffiti has been discovered scratched into the walls of the city of Aphrodisias, in modern-day Turkey. The hundreds of graffiti messages reveal what the city’s inhabitants were up to so long ago — gladiator combat, chariot racing, religious fighting and sex. Here’s a look at some of the newly deciphered graffiti. 

The graffiti seen here was found in a stadium and shows gladiator fights between a retiarius (a type of gladiator armed with a trident and net) and a secutor (a type of gladiator equipped with a sword and shield).

At top the retiarius emerges victorious and holds his trident over the wounded secutor. At middle the battle between the two types of gladiators rages on with a referee, at left, overseeing it. At bottom a secutor is seen chasing a fleeing retiarius. Researchers believe that a spectator carved scenes that he had seen in the arena.

See More Photos of the Graffiti in the Ancient City of Aphrodisias Bellow

Juvenile scratchings


Graffiti containing sexual imagery was also found in the city. Numerous penises as well as faces can be seen here. The penises are shown in a variety of ways, one of them appears to be inside the mouth of a face. 

Conflicting beliefs


Christians, Jews and those following polytheistic religions lived in Aphrodisias, coming into conflict at times. This statue is the sculptured head of a governor who followed (and/or supported) polytheistic beliefs. A Christian sculptor has noted their disapproval writing down a series of letters which means “Mary gives birth to Jesus.”

 A shopping areagraffiti-discovery-4

The city had a large Jewish population. Many Jewish traders set up shop in in an abandoned temple complex known as the Sebasteion. This image shows a Hanukkah menorah, a nine candle lamp that would be lit during the Hanukkah festival. This may be one of the earliest depictions of a Hanukkah menorah. 

Magic spells

graffiti-discovery-5A depiction of a person with a snake wrapped around their head. The snake held magical properties in the ancient world and this graffiti may be tied to some kind of magic.

Artistry at work


Some beautiful depictions of faces were found in the city. This image is from a house.

Developing a talent

graffiti-discovery-7Another image of a face, it was found in the theater.

Remembering experiences

graffiti-discovery-8This image shows an acrobat balancing on a tightrope. It was found on the pavement of the theater stage.


Fabio Evagelista is a Brazilian writer.

Crossed Paths is the first book of the Myra-Hati trilogy, an epic adventure in a post-apocalyptic world, for the lovers of sci-fi / fantasy genre. This is the author’s first work published in America.



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