A team of historians has found that romantic human kissing first began 4,500 years ago in Mesopotamia, according to a new research paper published in the journal Science.
This research article confirms that kissing was already an established practice nearly 1,000 years after the date most experts previously identified as being associated with the early spread of herpes simplex virus 1.
A new study claims that humanity’s earliest recorded kiss took place in Mesopotamia 4,500 years ago. @uni_copenhagen@Science Magazinehttps://t.co/0eNHbNJh5m
— Phys.org (@physorg_com) May 18, 2023
Scientists have found new evidence of kissing in clay tablets from ancient Mesopotamia, the first human cultures that arose between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now Iraq and Syria.
The oldest texts in the Sumerian language indicate that kissing was associated not only with sexual intercourse, but also with social practices.
The study was conducted by Dr. Trolls Bank Arbol, an expert on ancient Mesopotamia from the University of Copenhagen, and biologist Dr. Sophie Lund Rasmussen from the University of Oxford.
Her contributions include describing a theory that the romantic and sexual kissing that bonobos also enjoy could have evolved to determine a partner’s health based on knowing if they had bad breath up close.
Dr. Rasmussen said: “Kissing is something we take for granted and it seems like it’s always been there, but it had to start somewhere and we think it’s older than we thought before.” Evidence from our closest relatives, the bonobos and chimpanzees, shows that we do this to create a sense of closeness and connectedness in our relationships.
But it can also help us assess a potential mate because bad breath indicates that something is wrong and they may be in poor health.”
An article published in the journal Science sheds light on how kissing was first perceived, based on texts from ancient Mesopotamia.
Clay tablets written in cuneiform provide clear examples that kissing was not only part of intimate romantic relationships in ancient times, but was also used at the time to express affection between parents and children or friends, according to a research article.
Therefore, Arbol noted, “Kissing should not be considered a habit that originated exclusively in one region and spread from there, but it seems to have been practiced in many ancient cultures for several thousand years.”
“In fact, studies of bonobos and chimpanzees, the closest relatives of humans, have shown that both species kiss, which may indicate that kissing is an important behavior in humans and explain why it can be found in all cultures,” Rasmussen said. .
While kissing is an important step forward in human social and sexual behavior, scientists say the habit has played an unintended role in the transmission of microorganisms that can cause viruses to spread between people.
Kissing is described in ancient Mesopotamian texts dating back to 2500 BC, and it appears that kissing is common in many cultures rather than in a specific region.
Scientists previously assumed that the oldest evidence of human kissing on the lips was found in South Asia 3,500 years ago.
Some prehistoric figurines suggest a kiss before writing, but this is not clear enough to be certain.
Dr. Arbol said: “Kissing should not be considered a custom that originated exclusively in any region and spread from there, but it seems to have been practiced in many ancient cultures for several thousand years.”
The scientists also explain that kissing may have had a long-term effect on the transmission of viruses such as herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), which causes cold sores.
The disease known as Bushanu in ancient medical texts from Mesopotamia may have referred to the herpes virus.
Arbol explained: “There are a large number of medical texts from Mesopotamia, some of which refer to a disease with symptoms similar to HSV-1. However, it is interesting to note some similarities between the disease known as Bushanu in ancient medical texts from Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia and symptoms, caused by herpes simplex infection. Bushanu’s disease occurred mainly in or around the mouth and throat, and symptoms included blisters in or around the mouth, which is one of the predominant signs of a herpes infection.”
“If the practice of kissing is widespread and well-established in an ancient group of societies, it is likely that the consequences of kissing in terms of pathogen transmission are fairly constant,” Rasmussen added.
Source: New York Post.