The wall painting in the photo above is modern grafitti on a wall in Bethlehem. The artwork presents a “peace dove” dressed in a flack jacket and carrying an olive branch. It also has a red target on its chest representing the view from a rifle scope. The message: Israel is destroying opportunities for peace. The Holy Land is filled with grafitti of all types; some from locals, some from tourists.

In October 2018 at the Israel Museum, archeologists unveiled a stone column (above) they had recently found in an excavation near the Jerusalem Convention Center. This column was in secondary use in a Roman building. Finding a column in secondary use from this period isn’t all that unusual. So, why was this column being unveiled in a ceremony at the Israel Museum? The answer? Because of the grafitti (inside the red box) found on the column. Ancient grafitti.

Written in the Hebrew style common at the time of Herod the Great (c. 37-4BC) are the words “Ḥananiah son of Dodalos of Jerusalem.” The inscription is 2,000 years old, and though the person is unknown to scholars, there seems to be two options as to what is going on with the inscription. Either it is an ancient version of “Joe was here” or it names the sponsor of the column in the original construction project. You can see an ancient column with the latter type of inscription at Capernaum.

Scavenger Hunt: See how many types of grafitti you can find as you travel throughout the land.

Photo Credits: Dove, Craig Dunning; Column, Danit Levy, Israel Antiquities Authority.