Indelible Evidence
July 07, 2023 ( Prev / Next )

If you’ve been paying even passive attention to the media the last week you’ve probably noticed everyone losing their shit over a tourist who etched his initials and those of his girlfriend into part of a wall of the Colosseum1. The latest internet news mountain out of a molehill.

I’m in no way condoning the behaviour. I mean, if you feel the need to do that then you’re a bit of a cunt really. However, what seems to be missing from all the uproar and reporting on this is some necessary context. I thought I would add it here:

I’ve got loads of these. I took them on our visit in July 2022 when we were in Rome and tried to escape the heat by buying last minute tickets to visit the Colosseum.

Neither of us were really that interested in visiting the place, joining the procession of other tourists ambling through the site, but the potential of a shaded place in 40 C heat and the slim chance that there might be something there we hadn’t seen a thousand times before online got the better of us.

The carvings in the walls were, by far, the most interesting thing I saw during our visit. The rest of the place is like a lot of unkempt ancient monuments, slowly eroding and disappearing over the centuries or becoming Theseus’ ship. Not that visually interesting to a photographer who is looking for something different.

If you look long enough you’ll see that some of these date to between 1939 and 1945… that’s really interesting. If you go down that rabbit hole you’ll discover that the Allies avoided bombing various sites in Rome, and you’ll even find photos of US tanks driving past the Colosseum in 1944. Probably some of the above etchings are from those.

Not to mention the Romans themselves were etching dick graffiti into the walls 1800 years before that2.

It’s indelible evidence that humans were there, once.



photography, history