In a recent discovery, scientists have uncovered new proof indicating that our ancestors may have engaged in kissing as early as 4,500 years ago.
The evidence comes in the form of clay tablets found in regions that now make up Iraq and Syria. These tablets, originating from the earliest Mesopotamian societies, provide indications that kissing was a common practice during that time. Moreover, it is even suggested that such acts may have played a role in the transmission of cold sores.
Researchers from the esteemed University of Copenhagen have put forth the notion that kissing was not limited to a particular region but rather a widespread custom across various cultures. This finding challenges the earlier hypothesis proposing that the origin of lip kissing can be traced back 3,500 years ago to a specific part of southern Asia.
The evidence is derived from clay tablets etched with cuneiform script, an ancient form of writing used by the people of Mesopotamia, located between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in what is now Iraq and Syria.
Babylonian clay model showing an intimate scene
Among the tablets which were uncovered is a Babylonian clay model believed to depict an intimate scene from 1800 BC.
The depiction shows what appears to be the touching of lips between a couple, providing a visual representation of this ancient act of affection.
The first recorded kiss in history goes back to south of Iraq, Sumerian era, 4500 years ago pic.twitter.com/irqAPhsHe0
— Ayman AL-Amiri (@ayman__ALAMIRI) May 19, 2023
Dr. Troels Pank Arboll, an expert at the University of Copenhagen who specializes in the history of medicine in Mesopotamia, said that there is substantial evidence that kissing played a significant role in ancient times.
Moreover, he further explained that many clay tablets from that era have survived, revealing that kissing was not only associated with romantic relationships but also with friendships and familial bonds.
Dr. Arboll emphasized that the origins of kissing cannot be attributed to a single region. Instead, it seems to have been a widespread practice across various ancient cultures for thousands of years.
Kissing might have spread cold sores in ancient times
Kissing might have unintentionally played a role in spreading viruses like herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), which leads to cold sores, according to researchers.
Dr. Arboll explained that from a significant collection of ancient Mesopotamian medical texts, they discovered mentions of a disease that showed symptoms resembling those of the herpes simplex virus 1.
However, it’s important to note that these ancient medical texts can be influenced by cultural and religious beliefs, so they should not be taken at face value, added Dr. Arboll.
Dr. Arboll further mentioned that the research team identified certain similarities between a disease referred to as buʾshanu in the ancient medical texts from Mesopotamia and the symptoms caused by herpes simplex infections.
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