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First kiss recorded in Mesopotamia 4,500 years ago

The romantic kiss may have existed for 1,000 years longer than previously thought, dating back to ancient Mesopotamia, a new scientific paper suggests.

The paper, published Thursday in the journal Science, looked at surviving clay tablets from Mesopotamia and dated the first recorded kiss to 4,500 years ago.

“In ancient Mesopotamia, which is the name of the first human cultures that existed between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in present-day Iraq and Syria, people wrote in cuneiform script on clay tablets,” the statement said. Study author Troels Pank Arboll, an expert on the history of medicine in Mesopotamia, said in a report from the University of Copenhagen.

“Several thousand of these clay tablets have survived to this day, and they contain clear examples that kissing was considered part of romantic intimacy in ancient times, just as kissing could be part of friendships and relationships. relationships with family members.

Researchers say recent studies have suggested that kissing originated in a specific geographic area in South Asia 3,500 years ago and spread to other regions.

But in their article for Science, they suggest that kissing was already well established in the Middle East.

“Therefore, kissing should not be seen as a custom that originated exclusively in one region and spread from there, but rather appears to have been practiced in several ancient cultures over many millennia,” Arboll said. .

Sophie Lund Rasmussen of the University of Oxford and co-author of the study says humans’ closest living relatives – bonobos and chimpanzees – also engage in kissing, which could explain why it’s is a fundamental human behavior found in all cultures.

It also inadvertently contributed to the spread of viruses, according to the authors.

“If the practice of kissing was widespread and well-established in a range of ancient societies, the effects of kissing in terms of pathogen transmission must probably have been more or less constant,” Rasmussen said.

Kissing may also have played an “unintended role” in the transmission of certain viruses such as herpes simplex virus 1, which is spread through oral contact and causes infections called cold sores around the mouth.

“There is a large body of medical texts from Mesopotamia, some of which mention a disease whose symptoms are reminiscent of herpes simplex virus 1,” Arboll said.

The texts, for example, refer to a disease known as bu’shanu, which bears some similarities to the symptoms caused by the herpes simplex virus.

However, different “cultural and religious concepts” would have influenced these ancient medical texts, he added, meaning they cannot be read at face value, he added.

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