10 Amazingly Ancient Advertisements

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Alan D. Eames, who described himself as a beer anthropologist, found a tablet with the image of an ample-breasted woman holding jugs of the ale. Next to the image, Eames believed the writing said, Drink Elba, the beer with the heart of a lion. Unfortunately, no photographic evidence of this find was ever produced.

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Another gives more accurate directions to follow. At Nuceria, look for Novellia Primigenia near theRomangate in the prostitutes district.

A copper plate was engraved with the ad so that many paper copies could be churned out and passed on to potential customers. Blame Jinan Liu the next time a printed leaflet is left under your cars windshield wiper.

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20 pairs of gladiators of Decimus Lucretius Satrius Valens, perpetual priest of Nero Caesar, son of Augustus, and 10 pairs of gladiators of Decimus Lucretius Valens will fight at Pompeii on 4 April. There will be a hunt.[7]

Advertisementsare the scourge of the modern world. They have become more clever and intrusive as people become more aware of their presence. Ads on the Internet can follow us between websites and address us by name.

In the Louvre, there is a jug showing two men leading horses. It is a pleasant scene, and no doubt, someone would have wanted it in his home. Perhaps not, though, as it has some added text between the figures. In what the Louvre considers one of the first advertising slogans, the potter has written: Buy me, you will be getting a bargain.

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Dont you hate it in fast-foodrestaurantswhen people get to the front of the line and still havent decided what theyre having? Well, the owners of the brothels in the Roman city of Pompeii clearly faced a similar problem.

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People like to getdrunk, so advertising alcohol should be an easy thing. It has been claimed that humans gave up their hunter-gatherer ways expressly to be able to brew alcohol. Supposedly, the oldest advertisement in the world is for a Mesopotamian beer.

Pompeii was home to a large amphitheater where gladiator shows were often performed. We even know that the games got out of hand sometimes, such as when a series of taunts turned into a riot and the games were banned. Once the Senate allowed them to be held again, the games were used for political ends. Painted advertisements on walls announced who was paying for the games.

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Printing changed the world and especially the world of advertising. Leaflets andpostersbecame a practical way for a company to spread the good news about their products. When did printing become a tool of marketing? A thousand years ago in China, one company seems to have been an early adopter.

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Neighbors beg you to elect Lucius Statius Receptusduumvirwith judicial power, a worthy man. Aemilius Celer wrote this, a neighbor. You jealous one who destroys this, may you fall ill.[2]

Written in large, black, capital letters, the advertisement is hard to miss. The general formula for these ads was to state that some person supports a certaincandidateand you should, too.

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Listverseis a Trademark of Listverse Ltd.

In one ad, a group of prostitutes urges the public to vote a certain way. Was this a genuine ad or an act of negative campaigning? All the deadbeats and Macerius ask for Vatia asaedile seems to be a clear attack ad.

Coins have long been a tool of propaganda and still are today. British coins have ELIZABETH II D G REG F D stamped on them, meaning Elizabeth II,Dei gratia regina fidei defensor or Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith. Ancient coiners were also keen on advertising the importance of the person whose head was shown.

Olive oilwas one of the most important products of the ancient world. It was used in food, as fuel in lamps, in medicine, and to clean the body. Like those who hunt out extra virgin olive oil, people would seek out the best quality oils.

Many pots are signed by the artists, their names no doubt helping to sell these wares to collectors just as a signedMonetwould be snapped up today. Signatures are their own type of advertising.

Poets wrote about the joys of this wine. According to Martial, it was a drink fit to be poured for Zeus himself. It developed a myth around its creation and was supposedly a divine gift from the god Bacchus. One particular vintage from 121 BC became so acclaimed that its price reached absurd levels.[10]

When King Nebuchadnezzar turned Babylon from a market town into the capital of an empire, he made sure that people knew he was responsible for the change by building Babylon with his own branded bricks.

They are not a modern invention, though. Whether there were dollars, dinars, or denarii jangling in your pocket, there was always someone encouraging you to spend them through the use of an advertisement.

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However, not all advertising is conveyed through pictures or text. Word of mouth is perhaps the oldest form of advertising. In those terms, Falernianwinehad one of the best campaigns.

The painted message on a wall is familiar from Pompeii. But in other ancient places, there were different ways to spread the news of a runaway slave. In Egypt, pieces of papyrus have been found with ads for lost slaves. One promises a reward to whomever brings the fugitive slave back to the army barracks.[9]

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Classical Greekpotteryis often heavily decorated in red or black figures. The stylized movements of the characters make them seem to come alive as the pot is turned.

Other emperors preferred to show their military prowess. Trajan decorated the reverse of his coins with images of his triumph over the Dacians. At a time when literacy was far from guaranteed, one picture on a coin could be worth far more than a thousand written words.

When a dog or cat goes missing, we often see posters advertising the fact and calling for the animals return. In the ancient world,slaveshad much the same position as pets to their owners. The slavemaster wanted his property back, so he would advertise his loss. Messages were painted on walls with descriptions of the fugitive slave and details of the reward for the finder.

They erected paintings of people in various states of sexual congress so that customers could decide what they wanted from the many services that were offered.[1]Romans were a lot less judgmental than most modern societies when it came to sex. Brothels were not hidden away but were able to advertise their wares publicly.

As well as in the large establishments, sex could be bought on the streets. Graffiti left all over the city directs people where to find the best prostitutes and brothels. If anyone sits here, let him read this first of all: if anyone wants a screw, he should look for Attice; she costs 4 sestertii, reads one.

If you want to sell something, it seems that tastemakers have always been a good investment.

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The perfect advertisement is one that is omnipresent and inserts itsmessageinto the customers mind, almost without him realizing it. One method is to place the ad on an object that is used every day.

One bitter potter, Euthymides, even took the time to advertise how much better his work was than one of his rivals. He wrote better than Euphronios could ever have done on one of his vases.[3]Sometimes, however, artistic skill was not sufficient to guarantee a sale.

WhenSaddam Husseinrebuilt the ruins of Babylon, he went one better than Nebuchadnezzar. On the bricks used in the reconstruction, he had written, Saddam Hussein, the protector of Iraq, rebuilt civilization and rebuilt Babylon.

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Brutus was defeated, and Caesar was declared a god. Of course, more emperors followed and each of them was keen to use coinage to brand themselves. Augustus, the adopted son of Caesar, had written on his coins that he was the son of a god, which was technically true.

But sponsorship of games is not a modern invention. We must turn to the bloody gladiatorial bouts of the Romans for the early use of sport as advertising and propaganda.

Julius Caesarput his face on Roman coins and used them to proclaim his descent from the goddess Venus. His assassin, Brutus, also used coins as propaganda. Brutus included two daggers on the reverse to show just how he had gotten there and to tell the people they had him to thank for the end of tyranny.[5]

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20 pairs of gladiators of Gnaeus Alleius Nigidius Maius…will fight without any public expense at Pompeii.

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For example, the Lupanare (Wolfs Den) was a purpose-built brothel in Pompeii that contained 10 rooms for guests to use. Its wall paintings served as ads for its various sexual services.

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Unlike a lost pet, however, a returned slave could not expect to be received with love. Captured slaves faced any of a number ofpunishmentsfor their dereliction.

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10 Amazingly Ancient Advertisements

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who provides for Esagila and Ezida, the eldest son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, am I was written on each one. However, these bricks only advertised to the builders involved. Once they were in place, the inscriptions were hidden from sight.[6]

When the time came to vote, it was hoped that the ads would remind people who had given the bestentertainment.

Many amphorae from Baetica in Spain that contained olive oil have been found with stamps showing the origin of the oil. Perhaps its oil was in demand and having that stamp of origin helped sales. On the other hand, amphorae of olive oil from North Africa are rarely marked, which may suggest that there was no benefit in advertising the origin of that oil.

Prostitution is called the worlds oldest profession. But another profession has many similarities: politics. A politician must sell himself to the public just as assiduously as any brothel dweller, and inPompeii, they turned to many of the same tactics. The local positions ofaedileandduoviriwere clearly sought after because election notices are painted all over the walls of Pompeii.

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Big sports are big money. Thousands, even millions, of eyes will be turned to the event. Any advertisement placed there is sure to get noticed. You might evensponsorthe whole game and have your name on everyones lips.

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Jinan Liu made good needles, and he wanted you to know about them. We buy high quality steel rods and make fine quality needles, to be ready for use at home in no time, runs the text of the ad.[4]

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As advertising copy goes, it may not be the best. But the advertisement does show another innovation. Above the writing, there is the image of a rabbit holding a needle. Here we see the earliestmascotfor a brand.

At Pompeii, archaeologists found jars ofgarum(a fish sauce made from fermented fish juice) that declared the contents: Finestgarumfrom the factory of Umbricius Abascantus and First-rategarumfrom the factory of Marcus Acceius Telemachus.[8]

Amphorae were large pottery vessels that were used to transport and store goods in the Greek and Roman worlds. Anamphoraoften had a stamp placed on it to let the purchaser know the exact origin of the product inside. Some may have been purely for management of stock (knowing what you had in store), but many stamps were a form of advertising.

This time, the writing was visible to all. After Saddams fall, all the bricks were removed.

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Over 4,000 years ago, the bricks used in construction had messages impressed in them in cuneiform writing. These messages usually bore the name of the king who had commanded the building. When you pass a wall covered with the kings name, you tend to remember him.

Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in modern Iraq, was home to one of the earliest civilizations. Almost every building was made from mud bricks, not stone. These bricks offered a powerful opportunity for advertising.

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