Pompeii unveils violent images drawn by children 2,000 years ago

Pompeii Archaeological Park

A new discovery in Italy suggests children in ancient Rome drew violent images from the events of their daily lives. 

Experts say the children used to witness gladiator fights and hunting scenes and later sketched them on their mansions' walls.


Pompeii Archaeological Park

The findings came during restoration work at the famous Pompeii archaeological park.

The drawings were in charcoal and assumed to be from the hands of a child, "due to the simplicity of the execution, the naive nature of the line and the simplifications of the iconographic schemes," a press release stated. 


Pompeii Archaeological Park

The site's director Gabriel Zuchtriegel says the graffiti was likely made by children around 5-7 years of age due to the sketches showing legs and arms coming straight out of the head.

Researchers believe the children drew these after witnessing the events firsthand, not by recreating a scene from another pictorial model. 

"Probably one or more of the children who played in this courtyard … had witnessed fights in the amphitheater, thus coming into contact with an extreme form of spectacularized violence, which could also include executions of criminals and slaves," Zuchtriegel said. 


Pompeii Archaeological Park

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The drawings reveal kids of that generation were exposed to "extreme forms of violence," which is a concern still today with video games and movies.

"The drawings show us the impact of this on the imagination of a young boy or girl, subject to the same developmental stages that are still found today," Zuchtriegel said. 

In a neighboring house, archaeologists found a portrait of a hooded child, possibly the son of the owners, and the remains of a man and a woman who died during a volcanic eruption.

This story was reported from Detroit.