Ancient Graffiti and Domestic Space in the Insula of the Menander at Pompeii
This thesis is a case study of the ancient graffiti found in a specific city block, the Insula of the Menander (I.X), in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Contrary to the late 19th and early 20th century treatment of graffiti in Pompeian scholarship, which dismissed ancient graffiti as casual inscriptions with little relevance to the archaeology of Pompeii, recent scholarship approaches ancient graffiti as artifacts, studying them within their context. Using this contextual approach, my thesis examines the spatial distribution of the graffiti in the Insula of the Menander to better understand the use of public and private space. Chapter 1 introduces the topic of ancient graffiti in context, providing a brief description of the current state of scholarship and of the history of the Insula of the Menander. Chapter 2 discusses the challenges of defining ancient graffiti, and the various approaches to their interpretation. The two hypotheses are: first, that graffiti frequency and public and private space are related, and second, that graffiti type and room function are related. Chapter 3 outlines the methodology for analyzing the graffiti in context, and introduces general comparisons of frequency and spatial distribution. Chapter 4 continues this analysis, describing the graffiti in the context of each house and unit in the insula. Chapter 5 concludes that ancient graffiti, when used along with related archaeological evidence, are an informative source for studying the conceptualization and use of public and private space in antiquity, and may be used in future studies for gaining insight into the functions of space in the Roman cultural mindset.