Graffiti has been a part of military life for at least 5,000 years

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The original “Kilroy was here” was a result of an officious quality checker and Pearl Harbour. Kilroy was a foreman at Pearl Harbour. When he had checked and approved a piece of work - usually part of a ship - he would scrawl “Kilroy” in chalk on the part that wouldn’t show. When troops arrived to repair the damage, they found his name apparenty everywhere. So they continued it, as a running joke. The figure peering over a wall was invented in the UK by someone in electrical engineering. The original figure was composed of electrical symbols and was used to advertise a forces dance. He has (or had) a name, but I forget it. Someone else may remember. But he and “Kilroy” were two separate things.


I remember researching this some years ago and its a pretty interesting subject :slight_smile: Another ubiquitous thing i looked up was the “Eat At Joes” meme/advertising and similar variants, i remember seeing it everywhere in old cartoons and being perplexed by the reference.


I have heard of Roman graffiti, but that’s much less than 5,000 years old. What’s that old? Mohenjo-Daro?






Papasan was here, again.


FTFY :wink: :wink:


Roger was here.


That Roger!

(He does get out a lot, doesn’t he.)


For a brief time, I was here and, for a brief time, I mattered. – Harlan Ellison


Grey Will’ve Been Over Yonder

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Should any of you ever make it to the North of Scotland, I highly advise a visit of Orkney. Among a number of stunning sights is Maeshowe, a prehistoric cairn. The walls of the chamber in it are covered with Viking graffiti, like, e.g.:

Haermund Hardaxe carved these runes

These runes were carved by the man most skilled in runes in the western ocean

Ingigerth is the most beautiful of all women


I’m a huge fan of Skara Brae, so very pleased to find out Maeshowe is in the neighborhood. I hope to visit someday. Thanks for the links!

(I’m adding a link to my earlier post in appreciation)

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I know who Ellison is in passing but never saw that quote before. I would assume it was written as a general statement about life but it certainly applies in the context of graffiti. The more general idiom of “leaving your mark” as a metaphor for life is no accident. As someone who used to write an awful lot of graf, that Ellison quote is a nice summation of my reasoning. This idea, in some form, flashed through my mind every time I put up a tag.

it’s in the first sentence of the article : )

About 5,000 years ago, someone decided to paint a battle scene between
archers in a cave in Spain — perhaps one of the first instances of what
we’d call “war graffiti” today.

No way to know if it was painted by a combatant or just an onlooker, though. But I also immediately thought of Roman graf when I saw the headline here on BB. For anyone who hasn’t seen this page yet, it’s definitely classic internet:

(gladiator barracks); 8767: Floronius, privileged soldier of the 7th
legion, was here. The women did not know of his presence. Only six
women came to know, too few for such a stallion.

What I love is how nobody cares about identifying themselves, indicating that writing graf was seen as just something people do instead of illegal, immoral, or subversive.

The Times article contained this link about Americans in France during The Great War with, at the end, a focus on a site covered with German and American soldier’s graffiti, which was really great.


There’s quite a nice scene in the 1980’s Aussie movie Gallipoli. After a day’s training in the Nile river area, our plucky band of heroes climbs the Great Pyramid, and are at the summit just on dusk. As they sit around taking in the view and yarning (that other great military tradition to fill in the hours), one of them is carving his name into one of the blocks … right below Napoleon’s graffiti.


Nice. I know it’s a bit dicey copping to tagging, even if it’s only on the Internet, but got any photos you’d like to share?

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lol, I was much younger then. The statute of limitations is way past.
There’s none on my computer, though. All my photos are chemical-process prints, digital cameras were super expensive professional-only tools back then. I suppose I could re-photograph them with my phone but they’re packed away somewhere.

Ah well, still nice to talk shop with a street artist. Cheers, and thanks for the Times article!


Oh yes, Orkney is just amazing. Skara Brae and Maeshowe, the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, all basically next to each other. There’s the Knap of Howar, the Brochs, a number of smaller cairns, and more…

When I was there some 15 years ago (oh my…), the smaller cairns had a small wooden box on a post next to the entrance, containing a torch (flashlight) so you could enter them without the risk of banging your head against the low ceilings…

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