A second-century Roman mosaic shows Ganymede getting some hygiene help from a bird. Photo courtesy the Antiochia ad Cragum Archaeological Research Project.
Long before “call for a good time” ever appeared on a bathroom stall, ancient Romans filled their latrine walls with bawdy humor.
Archaeologists working with the Antiochia ad Cragum Archaeological Research Project (ARCAP) uncovered second-century mosaics depicting Narcissus enchanted with his own penis and Ganymede having his swimsuit area sponged clean by a bird. The artworks were found inside a Roman latrine in the village of Güney in southern Turkey. The town encompases the ancient city of Antiochia ad Cragum, which was a significant site during both the Roman and Byzantine eras.
“We were stunned at what we were looking at,” Michael Hoff, an archaeologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and co-director of ARCAP, told Live Science. “You have to understand the myths to make it really come alive, but bathroom humor is kind of universal as it turns out.”
A second-century mosaic of Narcissus. Photo courtesy the Antiochia ad Cragum Archaeological Research Project.
Second century Roman latrine murals recently discovered in Turkey. Photo courtesy the Antiochia ad Cragum Archaeological Research Project.