Babylonian clay model showing a nude couple on a couch engaged in sex and kissing. Date: 1800 BC. (Credit: © The Trustees of the British Museum)
Sun 21 May 2023:
Kissing was first recorded in human civilization around 4,500 years ago, according to researchers, with evidence pointing to its existence in the ancient Middle East.
Scientists have emphasized evidence that people in the oldest Mesopotamian communities practiced kissing, as mentioned in ancient literature dating back as 2500BC. Previously, the texts had gone unnoticed.
The article, which was published in the journal Science, stated that evidence has been cited by the researchers which proves that kissing led to the spread of orally transmitted diseases like cold sores.
Although it was suggested in the research that familial or friendly kissing was a common behaviour practised among humans hailing different periods and geographies, romantic-sexual kissing was not believed to be culturally universal.
Kissing, according to the new findings, was an everyday component of romantic closeness among humans in ancient times across numerous cultures and did not originate in any specific place, according to the researchers.
Kissing was practiced among married couples and was also viewed as part of an unmarried person’s wants when in love, according to ancient Mesopotamian writings.
Dr Troels Pank Arboll, an expert on the history of medicine in Mesopotamia at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, said, “In ancient Mesopotamia, which is the name for the early human cultures that existed between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in present-day Iraq and Syria, people wrote in cuneiform script (wedge-shaped marks) on clay tablets.”
“Many thousands of these clay tablets have survived to this day, and they contain clear examples that kissing was considered a part of romantic intimacy in ancient times, just as kissing could be part of friendships and family members’ relations,” he added.
“Therefore, kissing should not be regarded as a custom that originated exclusively in any single region and spread from there but rather appears to have been practiced in multiple ancient cultures over several millennia,” the expert further stated.
Researchers believe that kissing caused infection spread.
Kissing may also have unintentionally spread infections such as herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), which causes cold sores and diphtheria, according to the researchers.
“There is a substantial corpus of medical texts from Mesopotamia, some of which mention a disease with symptoms reminiscent of the herpes simplex virus 1,” stated Dr Arboll.
The texts, however, cannot be taken at face value, according to the experts, because they may have been affected by distinct cultural and religious notions of the time.
SOURCE: INDEPENDENT PRESS AND NEWS AGENCIES
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