M4C Logo AHRC Logo

Rachael Helen Banes

Classics, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Scratch That: A Comparative Approach to the Sociology of Graffiti in Late Antiquity c. 350-750 CE.

This thesis has two facets, the first being the creation of a catalogue of graffiti in the late antique east, c. 300-750 CE. The catalogue will draw from archaeological reports and other corpuses to create a detailed guide to graffiti from the period, including their location, date and a transcription.

The second facet of this thesis is the interpretation of this data, to construct an understanding of the sociological and cultural reasons for graffiti, what it represented for late antique communities. I will incorporate theory about modern graffiti to understand the motivations and social values ascribed to graffiti, and whether or not the attitudes towards, and uses of, graffiti varied throughout the east.

Research Area

  • Classics


  • The Interaction between Graffiti and Formal Imagery at Four Cult-Sites in Asia Minor and Palestine c. 300-700 CE- Postgraduate and Early Career Late Antiquity Network (January 2019)
  • You Can't Write that Here! Mapping Secular and Religious Graffiti in Aphrodisias c. 300-700 CE- Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies Spring Symposium (March 2019) An extended version of this paper was presented at Leeds IMC in July 2019
  • Churches, Brothels and Theatres: Representations of Buildings in Late Antique Graffiti C. 300-700 CE Meaning, Memory and Movement (November 2019)
  • Debating Defacement: Scholarly Approaches to Graffiti in Late AntiquityCAHA Colloquoum (June 2020)

Other Research Interests

  • Visual and Material Culture in Late Antiquity
  • Early Christianity
  • Late Roman Mortuary Art
  • Heritage Studies, and the dissemination of historical information

About Me

In 2016 I undertook a project to recreate David Talbot-Rice’s photographs from Mystras. The results of this project, as well as other photographs relating to Christian and Byzantine history, can be found on my online archive Christian and Byzantine Archaeology at https://www.flickr.com/photos/142760224@N05/albums

In 2017 I won the Whitting Prize in Byzantine Studies for my Undergraduate dissertation. 

Additional Activities

  • Chair of Rosetta Forum, a postgraduate forum in Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology (2018-Present)
  • Co-chair of 2019 University of Birmingham Postgraduate Colloquium in Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies 
  • Specialist editor for Rosetta Journal (2017-Present)
  • Specialist editor for Diogenes Journal 2020-Present)
  • Copy Editor for Rosette Journal (2019-Present)
  • Organiser of "Writing on the Wall: A Workshop on Historic Graffiti" at the University of Birmingham in July 2019