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Gladiator graffiti.

Defacing public property is a serious crime today, punishable by fines and even jail time. But in ancient Rome, graffiti--a word that traces its origins to graffito, Italian for "scribblings"--was permitted and even respected. Archaeologists working on restorations in the Colosseum--the 50,000-seat amphitheater built in 70 A.D. where Romans flocked to watch gladiator duels--have discovered new writings and drawings beneath the layers of the massive stadium's walls. One scrawl found in a corridor, a red palm leaf symbolizing victory, was drawn next to the letters "Vind"--short for vindicatio, or vengeance. The earliest known examples of graffiti date back 40,000 years in the form of cavemen drawings in Spain. Rebecca Benefiel, an expert in ancient Roman culture, says graffiti in Rome was valued because few people at the time were literate. She adds that the new discovery is exciting because it may help get us closer to the "thoughts and interests of the people who actually spent time [there] and wanted to leave their mark."


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Title Annotation:Ancient Rome; discovery of new writing and drawings in the Colosseum (Rome, Italy)
Publication:New York Times Upfront
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Mar 11, 2013
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