The world’s oldest erotic graffiti has been found, and it is a carving of two penises and a boast from an ancient Greek gay couple.
Dr Andreas Vlachopoulos, a specialist in prehistoric archaeology, stumbled upon the artwork in the ruins of Astypalaia.
The inscriptions are reportedly ‘monumental in scale’ and ‘tantalizingly clear’.
Found on the Vathy peninsula, the graffiti dates back to the fifth and sixth centuries B.C.
Chiselled into the outcrops of dolomite limestone, one inscription dating back to the sixth century describes two men: ‘Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona (Νικασίτιμος οἶφε Τιμίονα).’
‘We know that in ancient Greece sexual desire between men was not a taboo,’ Dr Vlachopoulos told The Guardian.
‘But this graffiti … is not just among the earliest ever discovered. By using the verb in the past continuous [tense], it clearly says that these two men were making love over a long period of time, emphasising the sexual act in a way that is highly unusual in erotic artwork.’
With archaeologists suggesting soldiers may have been garrisoned at the Bay of Vathy, two penis carvings dating to fifth century BC were also discovered.
Not only does the graffiti prove humans have been boasting about their sex lives for centuries, it shows ordinary people were also skilled at literacy.
‘Whoever wrote the erotic inscription referring to Timiona was very well trained in writing,’ Angelos Matthaiou, an epigrapher at the Greek Epigraphic Society.
‘The letters have been very skillfully inscribed on the face of the rock, evidence that it was not just philosophers, scholars and historians who were trained in the art of writing but ordinary people living on islands too.’
Very few Greek islands have been properly explored or excavated, so there may be more ancient gay graffiti still to be found.