BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Graffiti as Devotion

PHOTO BY SUZANNE DAVIS, INTERNATIONAL KURRU ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT, 2016

Through March 29, 2020
The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
Ann Arbor, MI, USA—www.lsa.umich.edu/kelsey

Vandalizing and Disrespectful —that’s how we typically perceive graffiti. Texts or images, these informal marks in public built spaces can express opposition, rebellion, or artistic aspirations. In the ancient world, people made similar graffiti in streets, markets, bathrooms, or theaters. But they also left graffiti in sacred spaces, such as places of worship, grave sites, and prominent landscape features. Far from disrespectful, such creations were intended as devotional.

Graffiti as Devotion Along the Nile, an exhibit at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology in Ann Arbor, presents a group of devotional graffiti from el-Kurru, an ancient site in northern Sudan (ancient Kush). Dating from the ninth century B.C.E. through the early Middle Ages, these graffiti represent tangible traces of personal worship as people moved from pagan to Christian to Muslim beliefs.

The themes recorded at el-Kurru relate to offerings (offering stands and tables), pilgrimage (feet, sandals, and boats), and other religious symbols, such as sacred animals—like this ram, a symbol of the god Amun, documented in the funerary temple at el-Kurru and dated to the Meroitic period (c. 300 B.C.E.–300 C.E.).

Not a BAS Library or All-Access Member yet? Join today.

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Graffiti: The Ancient World’s Social Media

Archaeological Views: Jewish Graffiti—Glimpsing the Forgotten Lives of Antiquity


Get more biblical Archaeology: Become a Member

The world of the Bible is knowable. We can learn about the society where the ancient Israelites, and later Jesus and the Apostles, lived through the modern discoveries that provide us clues.

Biblical Archaeology Review is the guide on that fascinating journey. Here is your ticket to join us as we discover more and more about the biblical world and its people.

Each issue of Biblical Archaeology Review features lavishly illustrated and easy-to-understand articles such as:

• Fascinating finds from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament periods

• The latest scholarship by the world's greatest archaeologists and distinguished scholars

• Stunning color photographs, informative maps, and diagrams

• BAR's unique departments

• Reviews of the latest books on biblical archaeology

The BAS Digital Library includes:

• 45+ years of Biblical Archaeology Review

• 20+ years of Bible Review online, providing critical interpretations of biblical texts

• 8 years of Archaeology Odyssey online, exploring the ancient roots of the Western world in a scholarly and entertaining way,

• The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land

• Video lectures from world-renowned experts.

• Access to 50+ curated Special Collections,

• Four highly acclaimed books, published in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution: Aspects of Monotheism, Feminist Approaches to the Bible, The Rise of Ancient Israel and The Search for Jesus.

The All-Access membership pass is the way to get to know the Bible through biblical archaeology.

Related Posts

Lod mosaic
Jul 1
Lod Mosaic Center Opens in Israel

By: Nathan Steinmeyer

the-prophet-job.jpg
Jun 30
Job Challenges God by Suing: God Responds

By: Biblical Archaeology Society Staff

Jun 29
What Caused the Bronze Age Collapse?

By: Megan Sauter


Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Send this to a friend