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Ancient tourists visiting the 5th century citadel at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka scribbled over 1800 individual graffiti there between 6th and 18th centuries.
Etched on the surface of the Mirror Wall, they contain pieces of prose, poetry, and commentary.
"Graffiti" is applied in art history to works of art produced by scratching a design into a surface.
A related term is "sgraffito", which involves scratching through one layer of pigment to reveal another beneath it.
In most countries, marking or painting property without the property owner's permission is considered defacement and vandalism, which is a punishable crime.
Graffiti may also express underlying social and political messages and a whole genre of artistic expression is based upon spray paint graffiti styles.
One inscription gives the address of a woman named Novellia Primigenia of Nuceria, a prostitute, apparently of great beauty, whose services were much in demand.There are many different types and styles of graffiti; it is a rapidly developing art form whose value is highly contested and reviled by many authorities while also subject to protection, sometimes within the same jurisdiction.Both "graffiti" and its occasional singular form "graffito" are from the Italian word graffiato ("scratched").Another shows a phallus accompanied by the text, mansueta tene ("handle with care").Disappointed love also found its way onto walls in antiquity: Quisquis amat. Veneri volo frangere costas fustibus et lumbos debilitare deae.