Rebecca R. Benefiel Professor of Classics

Rebecca R. Benefiel

Tucker Hall 105

Academic Positions:

Department of Classics, Professor and Department Chair

  Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program, Core Faculty
  Digital Humanities Working Group, Humanities Faculty
  Women and Gender Studies Program, Affiliated Faculty

Vice President, American Society of Greek and Latin Epigraphy (ASGLE)



Ph.D. in Classics, Harvard University, 1998-2005
Graduate study in epigraphy, L'Università di Roma 'La Sapienza', 1997-1998
B.A. in Greek and Latin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1993-1997
   awarded with Honors and Highest Distinction


Latin epigraphy, Roman social and cultural history, Latin literature,
Pompeii and Herculaneum, Roman archaeology

Collaborative Research Projects:

The Ancient Graffiti Project   (Director)

Epigraphic Database Roma   (Supervisor)

EAGLE, The Europeana network of Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy   (Contributor)

The Herculaneum Graffiti Project  (Project Director)

The Oplontis Project  (Contributing Scholar)


Professor Benefiel teaches a range of Latin and Classics course including:
CLAS 288 - Study Abroad: The Archaeology of the Roman Empire
CLAS 338 - Pompeii
CLAS 343 - Classics in a Digital Age (The Roman Emperor and Public Relations)
LATN 310 - Letters of Cicero and Pliny
LATN 320 - Literature of the Neronian Period
LATN 323 - Tacitus
LATN 326 - The Poetry of Ovid
LATN 350 - Latin Epigraphy

Other courses include Beginning and Intermediate Latin, and Advanced Latin Literature seminars on Suetonius, Ovid's Heroides, and The Representation of Rome in Latin Poetry

Selected Publications

Inscriptions in the Private Sphere in the Greco-Roman World, (eds.) Rebecca Benefiel and Peter Keegan, Leiden: Brill, 2016.

Rebecca R. Benefiel, H. Sypniewski, “Greek Graffiti in Herculaneum,” American Journal of Archaeology vol. 122.2 (2018), 209-244.

“Urban and Suburban Attitudes Toward Writing on Walls: Pompeii and Environs,” Writing Matters. Presenting and Perceiving Monumental Inscriptions in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, (eds.) I. Berti, K. Bolle, F. Opdenhoff, and F. Stroth, Berlin: De Gruyter (2017), 353-373.   Open access at: 

"The Culture of Writing Graffiti within Domestic Spaces at Pompeii," in: Inscriptions in the Private Sphere in the Greco-Roman World, edited by R. Benefiel and P. Keegan, Leiden: Brill (2016), 80-110.

"Regional Interaction," in: A Companion to Roman Italy, edited by A. Cooley, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester (2016), 441-458.

D. Petrain, R. Benefiel, “Good Fortunes at Oplontis? A reconsideration of SEG 38.1001,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 200 (2016), 229-233.

R. Benefiel, J. DiBiasie, H. Sypniewski, E. Zimmermann Damer, K. Helms, M. Loar, K. Lundqvist, F. Opdenhoff, “The Herculaneum Graffiti Project: Initial Field Season, 2014,” The Journal of Fasti Online. FOLD&R 361 (2016), 1-23.

R. Benefiel, H. Sypniewski, “Images and Text on the Walls of Herculaneum: Designing the Ancient Graffiti Project,” Off the Beaten Track. Epigraphy at the Borders, edited by A.E. Felle and A. Rocco, Oxford: Archeopress (2016), 29-48.

"Ancient Graffiti in Pompeian Domestic Spaces," in: Öffentlichkeit - Monument - Text: Akten des XIV Congressus Internationalis Epigraphiae Graecae et Latinae, edited by W. Eck and P. Funke, Berlin: De Gruyter (2014), 494-496.

"The Herculaneum Graffiti Project," ISAW Papers 7.4: Current Practice in Linked Open Data for the Ancient World, edited by T. Elliott, S. Heath, J. Muccigrosso (2014).

"The Graffiti," in: Excavations at Zeugma, edited by W. Aylward, Los Altos, CA: Packard Humanities Institute (2013), 178-191. [co-authored with K. Coleman]

"Campania," in: The Virgil Encyclopedia, vol. I, edited by R. Thomas and J. Ziolkowski, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell (2013), 226-227.

"Magic Squares, Alphabet Jumbles, Riddles and more: The culture of word-games among the graffiti of Pompeii," in: The Muse at Play. Riddles and Wordplay in Greek and Latin Poetry, edited by J. Kwapisz, D. Petrain, and M. Szymanski, Munich: De Gruyter (2012), 65-80.

"Grafitos en lugares domésticos en la antigua Pompeya," in: La Memoria en la Piedra. Estudios sobre Grafitos Históricos, edited by Pablo Ozcariz Gil, Gobierno de Navarra: Príncipe de Viana (2012), 221-230.

"Dialogues of Graffiti in the House of the Four Styles at Pompeii (Casa dei Quattro Stili, I.8.17, 11)," in: Ancient Graffiti in Context, edited by J. A. Baird and Claire Taylor, London: Routledge (2011), 20-48.

"Dialogues of Ancient Graffiti in the House of Maius Castricius at Pompeii," American Journal of Archaeology 114.1 (2010), 59-101.

"Rome in Pompeii: Wall Inscriptions and GIS," in: Latin on Stone. Epigraphic Research and Computing, edited by F. Feraudi-Gruénais, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield (2010), 45-75.

"Amianth, a Ball-Game, and Making One's Mark," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 167 (2008), 193-200.

"Pompeii, Puteoli, and the status of a colonia in the mid-first century AD," in: Pompei, Capri e la Penisola Sorrentina, edited by F. Senatore, Roma: Bardi Editori (2004), 349-368.

"Teaching by Example: Aetiology in Plutarch's De Mulierum Virtutibus," Ploutarchos n.s. 1 (2003/2004), 11-20.

"A New Praetorian Laterculus from Rome," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 134 (2001), 221-232.

"The Inscriptions of the Aqueducts of Rome: the ancient period," The Waters of Rome 1 (2001), 1-10.



  • "The Scope and Typology of Graffiti at Oplontis," in: Villa A ("of Poppaea") at Oplontis, edited by J. Clarke, S. De Caro, and M. Thomas, vol. II, American Council of Learned Societies.
  • R. Benefiel, H. Sypniewski, E. Zimmermann Damer, “Wall Inscriptions in the Ancient City: The Ancient Graffiti Project,” Proceedings of the Second North American Congress of Greek and Latin Epigraphy, Brill Studies in Greek and Roman Epigraphy, edited by Carlos Noreña and Nikolaos Papazarkadas (forthcoming 2019).
  • “Gladiators, Greetings, and Poetry: Graffiti in first century Pompeii,” Scribbling Through History: Comparative Studies of Graffiti from Ancient Egypt Onwards, edited by C. Ragazzoli, O. Harmansah, and C. Salvador, Bloomsbury.

Current Projects:
The Joy of Writing. Roman Culture and Ancient Graffiti in Pompeii and Herculaneum

Honors and Awards

National Lecturer, Archaeological Institute of America
Invited Research Scholar, Universität Heidelberg (SFB 933 Materiale Textkulturen), 2013
State of Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Award, 2011
Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome, 2002-2003

Grants and Fellowships:
National Endowment for the Humanities, Scholarly Editions and Translations Award, 2018-2020
National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Digital Humanities Grant, 2016-2018
Fellow in Digital Epigraphy, Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington DC, 2016-2017
Associated Colleges of the South Faculty Advancement Grant, 2016
Associated Colleges of the South Faculty Advancement Grant, 2014
Library of Congress Kluge Fellowship, 2011-2012
Archaeological Institute of America Olivia James Traveling Fellowship, 2008-2009   
American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant, Summer 2007
Mednick Fellowship, Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, Summer 2006 
Whiting Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2004-2005  

In the news . . .

Work featured in Smithsonian Magazine: 

In The Atlantic: 

In Forbes Magazine: 

In ScienceNews:

In Current World Archaeology: 

In National Geographic:

(and in National Geographic, Italian version)

On NPR (Virginia Insight):

In USA Today: