Graffiti from the Basilica in the Agora of Smyrna

Cover of the book, which displays the titles and names of authors and contributors superimposed on an image of an ancient graffito from the basilica.

An in-depth archaeological report featuring graffiti found during a recent excavation at the Ancient Greek city of Smyrna.

  • by: Roger S. Bagnall, Roberta Casagrande-Kim, Cumhur Tanriver
  • contributors: Burak Yolaçan
  • 2016
  • ISAW & NYU Press: 500 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-479864-64-5
  • DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt1w8h3mx

The graffiti published in this richly-illustrated volume were discovered during an excavation of the Roman basilica in the Ancient Greek city of Smyrna, known today as Izmir, which is situated on the Aegean coast of modern Turkey. The project, which began in 2003, has unearthed a multitude of graffiti and drawings encompassing a wide range of subjects and interests, including local politics, nautical vessels, sex, and wordplay.

Each graffito artifact holds the potential for vast historical and cultural data, rescued in this volume from the passage of time and razing ambitions of urban development. Given the city’s history, the potential wealth of knowledge to be gleamed from these discoveries is substantial: Smyrna has an uninterrupted history of settlement since the Neolithic–Copper ages, and remains today a major city and Mediterranean seaport at the crossroads of key trade routes.

The present volume provides comprehensive editions of the texts, descriptions of the drawings, and an extensive introduction to the subjects of the graffiti, how they were produced, and who was responsible for them. A complete set of color photographs is included.